Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Conference Championship Weekend. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
The NFL now stands on the precipice of the biggest game of the year, with this weekend’s pair of conference championship games set to decide the participants in Super Bowl LIV. We’ll break down both the Titans-Chiefs and Packers-49ers showdowns. However, we’ll first take a detailed look at the sports betting numbers for Pennsylvania in December, which proved to be another prolific month for the Keystone State.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
PA sports betting keeps climbing; record $343 million wagered in December
In December, Pennsylvania bettors helped the Keystone State put a fitting cap on what was the state’s first full year with legalized sports betting. The figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) earlier this week revealed yet another record amount of handle — $342.6 million during December, a new monthly high. Mobile sports betting continued to be the engine that propelled the state’s increasingly prolific betting machinery. Nearly 87 percent of all wagers were placed online.
The month-over-month growth for sports betting handle was more impressive from October to November (there was a $75.2 million increase, compared to “only” a $26 million bump from November to December). Yet there was plenty of holiday cheer among several operators with the type of overall business that was done. FanDuel Sportsbook continued to paced the field in online handle (approximately $154.5 million), online revenue (just over $4 million) and total revenue (just over $4.1 million). As the modest gap between the last two numbers indicates, FD still continues to reap an overwhelming amount of its profit from its mobile operation. It has no serious competitor in the state, yet. Sugarhouse/Rivers was the next-closest operator in total handle ($38.3 million) and total revenue ($1.7 million).
However, it was the sportsbook that checked in an admittedly distant second to FD in online handle ($35.9 million) that could ultimately be its toughest long-term competitor, if New Jersey is any indication. DraftKings Sportsbook is the operator in question. DK enjoyed a notable spike in handle during December after generating a rather disappointing $16.2 million in its debut month of November. Whether upward trend persists in January remains to be seen. After all, the NFL’s regular season and its weekly slate of up to 16 games is no longer a factor. But, with events like the NFL postseason and the just-transpired College Football National Championship Game on the calendar, it’s still a month that offers a tantalizing menu of betting opportunities.
A full breakdown of December sports betting numbers can be found on PlayPennsylvania.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Conference Championship Weekend
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs — Sun., January 19th, 3:05 p.m. ET
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Chiefs -7 (-115)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: Chiefs -7 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: Chiefs -7.5 (+100)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: Chiefs -7 (-115)
The Titans continued to do their best 2007 New York Giants impression last Saturday night. They apparently weren’t satisfied with breaking the Patriots’ 10-game home postseason winning streak a week prior. Tennessee upended what was arguably the best team in the NFL this past regular season, the Ravens, on the road in the Divisional Round. After those two triumphs, a matchup at Arrowhead against the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs, daunting as it is, likely looks a lot more conquerable.
Tennesee will continue to largely flourish or flounder with Derrick Henry as its offensive centerpiece. To that end, the matchup isn’t necessarily prohibitive. KC has allowed 129.4 rushing yards per home game this season and postseason. In the epic 35-32 Week 10 KC win over the Titans, Henry rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He’s already trampled through two of the best run defenses in the NFL the last two weeks in high-stakes matchups. Therefore, on paper, there’s little to suggest he won’t be able to keep the chains moving again. His task will only get easier if Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, who missed last week’s win over the Texans with a calf injury, is forced to sit again or is limited.
The Chiefs’ biggest success in the previous game against Tennessee came through the air. Mahomes racked up 446 yards and three touchdowns in the regular-season battle. Tyreek Hill came down with 11 of 36 completions that day and also accounted for 157 of his yards. The Titans’ secondary has been the defense’s biggest Achilles heel. Tennessee has allowed 250.6 passing yards per game on the road this regular season and postseason. They yielded the seventh-most passing yards (4,356) to quarterbacks during the regular season, along with 25 passing touchdowns. As with Henry against the Chiefs’ run defense, this is a matchup that tilts heavily in the favor of the offense.
Given the Titans’ recent level of play, the way the regular-season meeting between these two unfolded and the stakes at play, this should be tightly-contested affair. Ultimately, I lean toward the Titans hanging tough with a juggernaut for the third straight week and sliding in under the seven-point number at minimum.
The Lean: Titans +7
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers — Sun., January 19th, 6:40 p.m. ET
- DraftKings Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
A Packers squad that’s largely gotten by on offense this season by leaning heavily on its “Big Three” — Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams – will look to work its magic one more time in order to earn the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Green Bay was able to parlay that talent into a 13-3 regular-season mark and a close win over the Seahawks in last week’s Divisional Round matchup. Yet they’ll now face a 49ers team that already proved capable of solving the Packs’ narrowly focused attack once this season.
Back in Week 12, the Niners walloped the Packers for a 37-8 win. They limited Green Bay to 198 total yards. That included a minuscule 81 through the air. Rodgers averaged a season-low 3.2 yards per attempt and 104 passing yards while getting sacked five times. Then, Jones averaged 2.9 yards per rush on his 13 carries. San Francisco has seemingly only gotten tougher since that point. They’re now yielding an NFL-low 154.3 passing yards per home game after limiting the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins to 172 during last Saturday’s Divisional Round victory. They’re also now surrendering just 99.1 per game on the ground at Levi’s Stadium following their 18-yard stifling of Dalvin Cook in that same contest.
For his part, the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo will look to do some damage against a Packers secondary that yielded 233.0 passing yards per road game. In last week’s win over the Vikes, Jimmy G wasn’t forced to do much — he put up just 19 attempts for the game. However, it’s worth noting he threw for 253 yards — at an impressive 12.7 yards per attempt no less — in the regular-season meeting versus the Packers. He also tossed for a pair of scores in that contest. Coach Kyle Shanahan will likely look to get talented pass catchers like Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle more involved this week. The latter particularly victimized the Pack in the regular-season game. He posted six receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
Naturally, the running game should also play a prominent part. After rushing for 14 yards or fewer in four of his last eight games of the regular season, Tevin Coleman went off for 105 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns on 22 carries against the normally stingy Vikings run defense in the Divisional Round win. Raheem Mostert (12-58) was highly efficient as a complementary option. However, it’s worth noting Green Bay’s oft-maligned run defense was much better on the road — they allowed just 106.2 rushing yards when traveling.
Ultimately, while I envision this being a tough battle through three quarters, I lean toward the Packers lacking enough diversity in their offensive arsenal to not eventually fall behind by more than one possession by game’s end.
The Lean: 49ers -7.5