Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 17. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
It may still be the holiday season, but the Pennsylvania sports betting space is heading into the new decade with no shortage of momentum. Not only did last week’s release of the state’s November sports betting numbers bring plenty of good news, we now have a green light from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for a current operator’s expansion. We’ll delve further into the details of the forthcoming Unibet-themed sportsbook at The Downs, the off-track betting parlor for Mohegan Sun Pocono. Then, both the Eagles and Steelers are in “win-and-in” scenarios as far as the playoffs in Week 17. As such, we’ll offer betting perspectives on each of their critical matchups against the Giants and Ravens, respectively.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
Mohegan Sun gets green light for expansion of its Keystone State sports betting presence
Wilkes-Barrer-based Mohegan Sun Pocono has gained approval to operate a sportsbook in its off-track betting parlor, The Downs, located in Lehigh Valley. That official green light was given during the PGCB’s last meeting of 2019 on Wednesday, Dec. 18. It came almost exactly seven months after Mohegan first saw its petition to conduct sports betting approved by the PGCB last May 15. The new sportsbook is set for an opening in the second quarter of 2020 according to Anthony Carlucci, President and General Manager of the casino.
Mohegan has already been operating a retail location in conjunction with European gaming giant Unibet since September. The partnership also includes a mobile presence that launched in November. The retail location checked in with nearly $2.5 million in handle and just over $173K in revenue for November. Meanwhile, the online sportsbook garnered just over $4.3 million in handle, with the operator holding over $126K. The latter numbers are expected to rise in December with the benefit of a full month of operation and a good chunk of college bowl betting season factored in.
The delay in rolling out The Downs location largely stems from the logistics of its ongoing renovation. When finished, the sportsbook will reportedly boast ten sports wagering kiosks and four teller windows. The Downs project is the latest entrant, albeit delayed, into the state’s sports betting scene in December. BetAmerica launched earlier in the month in partnership with Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Week 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens — 4:25 p.m. ET
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: -2 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: -2 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: -1.5 (-115)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: -2 (-110)
The Steelers enjoy slim road favorite status here against the AFC’s No. 1 seed despite the now-confirmed absences of Mason Rudolph (shoulder), James Conner (quadriceps) and Maurkice Pouncey (knee). The logic is simple — we’re set to see a preseason-like Ravens squad take the field on both sides of the ball. Lamar Jackson (coach’s decision) and Mark Ingram (calf) are already ruled out for Baltimore. Marquise Brown (illness) and Mark Andrews (ankle) carry questionable designations. It may not take much for coach John Harbaugh to rule them out as well. And any front-line Ravens skill players that do play are likely to be gone by some point in the second quarter.
The Steelers will have to make do with promising but erratic Devlin Hodges at quarterback in light of Rudolph’s injury. Hodges was pulled for Rudolph in last week’s game against the Jets for poor performance before coach Mike Tomlin was forced to reinsert him. The rookie has thrown six interceptions on his last 55 pass attempts over the last pair of games. Yet, he’ll certainly get a reprieve in the form of likely facing second- and third-string players for a good chunk of this contest.
Then, it looks like a joint effort by Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and Kerrith Whyte on tap to handle the workload in the running game. Snell in particular has proven capable of handling a true lead-back role. Samuels and Whyte have had their moments and certainly bring different dimensions to the table.
Pittsburgh’s defense is legitimately elite. A quarterback with rust on him like Griffin that may tend to hold the ball a couple of seconds more than he should is going to be a particularly enticing target for the Steelers’ relentless pass rush. There have also been rumblings rookie Trace McSorley seeing time in this game behind Griffin. Given the differences in motivation and personnel here, I lean toward the Steelers having enough for both a win and cover.
The Lean: Steelers moneyline, Steelers -1.5
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants — 4:25 pm ET
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: -4 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: -4 (+100)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: -4 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: -4 (-110)
The Eagles now control their destiny courtesy of a 17-9 victory over the Cowboys in Week 16. Win this Week 17 matchup against the nothing-to-really-play-for Giants, and they’re the NFC East champs. Lose, and they’re out of the playoffs if Dallas prevails over the other NFC East also-ran, the Redskins. New York does come into the contest riding some momentum after Daniel Jones led them to a 41-35 Week 16 overtime win against Washington last Sunday on the strength of a franchise-record five touchdown passes. They’ll also be looking to help Saquon Barkley gain at least 89 rushing yards in order to reach the 1,000-mark for the season in just 13 games.
As has been the case in recent weeks, the Eagles will have no choice but to try and get the job done with a depleted pass-catching corps. Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz are confirmed out for this contest. Greg Ward and Dallas Goedert will be front and center in trying to give Philadelphia a semblance of a passing game. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Robert Davis will look to provide complementary support. They’ll face an interesting test in a Giants secondary that’s actually been above average at home (212.6 YPG allowed).
A ground game that’s boosted by the long-awaited return of Jordan Howard (shoulder) could be relied on quite heavily with the air attack so depleted. Rookie Miles Sanders has made significant strides over the last several weeks in Howard’s absence. While his teammate’s return to action will affect Sanders’ workload to an extent, it gives the offense another weapon on a week when they desperately need it.
The Giants will likely feed Barkley plenty in this spot. The purpose will be two-fold. They’ll be looking to help him reach the aforementioned milestone. They’ll also seek to maximize his recent momentum. Barkley has amassed 423 total scrimmage yards over the last two games alone. The Eagles do surrender just 88.0 rushing yards per contest, however, making his task a daunting one. There’s no such worries for the red-hot passing attack. Philadelphia is allowing an elevated 288.4 passing yards per road game and also sees starting cornerback Jalen Mills (ankle) head into gameday with a questionable designation.
As with the Steelers, I see the Eagles’ need for a victory here superseding everything else and leading them to a win.
The Pick: Eagles moneyline, Eagles -4