Without betting motivation, was there any real reason to stay tuned start of the 4th quarter?
All television programs begin with a pre-planned written script. It’s beginning to seem that all nationally televised football games start with one as well.
As for last Thursday night’s Baltimore Ravens-New York Jets clash, we aren’t primarily referring to the headline of new star Ravens Lamar Jackson’s attempt to break Michael Vick’s NFL rushing record for quarterbacks. Or to his team’s pursuit to maintain the number one AFC seeding for the upcoming NFL playoffs.
Let’s not fool ourselves. It was fun to watch Jackson dance through tacklers and throw darts to Ravens receivers while compiling five TD’s as Baltimore predictably toyed with the Jets defense. Fox #1 announcing team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman did their job of keeping us entertained as much as possible. But keep in mind that Friday is still a workday for most of us and this game was 35-7 at the end of three quarters. Was their any reason not to hit the remote button and go to sleep? Especially one with the Ravens a -17.5 favorite at most preferred sportsbooks.
Almost on cue as it was written in that script the Jets special team provided a very quick answer.
The J-E-T-S Jets blocked a punt for a touchdown, putting the game at 35-14 with the entire fourth quarter remaining. No doubt hopelessly over for a victory but very alive for the new NFL embraced "legalized wagering audience" putting down the remote to stay awake. Suddenly, many throughout the nation were not going to get a good seven hours sleep as planned.
Too bad Al Michaels wasn’t doing the game on NBC Sunday Night Football. Al would have referenced the blocked punt TD saying something sly as “I wouldn’t cover-up and go to bed just yet”. Michaels has gotten in trouble before hinting at over-under totals for already decided games by the network.
The point spread drama was subsequently diminished by Jackson with his fifth touchdown pass of the game to running back Mark Ingram two minutes later to make it 42-14. That didn’t last long, for the Jets answered the script call with another follow-up score of their own to make it 42-21 and the fingernail biting for bettors was on.
The Times They Are a Changin
What makes this game and all these types of nighttime network football games different now is America’s continually changing posture toward sports wagering. It may be a bizarre comparison, but it’s almost like our society’s current attitude on being homosexual or lesbian. It’s not forbidden to reference or mention it anymore. It’s something we’re rightfully coming to accept as part of our culture. Although the NFL seems to be the last to embrace it, they willfully bring it into our homes having new alliances by endorsing their teams to form partnerships with casinos daily and fund for software to protect “the integrity of the game”. Networks like ESPN are creating wagering game shows and steadily increasing the amount of betting information coming across the screen.
Seven Minutes Left to Fill
Fox had somewhat of a problem to keep casual viewers from turning off their sets last Thursday night. With less than seven minutes to go in a wrapped-up game, the Ravens were turning to RGIII (Robert Griffin 3rd) to fill-in at quarterback, in a wise move to keep Jackson protected for more important goals. Jackson also was somewhat hampered by a sore knee. Entertainment-wise, what else was there to stick around for except -17 or -17.5 point spread drama?
These types of situations also supply the new type of action provided by live in-play wagering at Bovada, BetOnline, 5Dimes and many other top sportsbooks.
Would the Ravens just run out the clock to protect their players or give Griffin the necessary downs he needs should Jackson be injured? Maybe the Jets believe they have time to mount an impossible comeback against secondary squad players? These opportunities can be potentially exploited by sharp individuals or then-again waste dollars by those desperate for action in a lost cause. And don’t forget those very caught up in teaser action, where a forgotten last-minute score makes a big difference between winning and losing.
Referring to the script, the Jets did provide necessary nail-biting in an otherwise long-over game by driving down the field twice before sputtering to secure a Ravens spread victory as well. Buck and Aikman didn’t make any gambling references but don’t count on that continuing in the future should these types of blowout games occur. Advertisers pay big money for Thursday Night fourth quarter slots and don’t want their audience “leaving the theater” before the show is over. It’s not far-fetched to envision a gentle NFL broadcast reminder something to the effect of “hey Joe, weren’t the Ravens favored like 17 points in this game”?
Though not on national television, the awful 1-12 Cincinnati Bengals travel to Miami this Sunday to take on the sad 3-11 Dolphins. True “get a life material” tuning in for those who have any motivation to watch except for wagering purposes. And please don’t tell me you're investing three hours or so of your time worrying about 2020 draft order.
Ironically, the game is currently a virtually pick-em or perhaps the Dolphins a -1 favorite at most preferred sportsbeooks. Without wagering, theoretically the winner here is really a loser as it potentially compromises their draft order for next season. The sole purpose of clicking on this game is for wagering purposes only. I envision an excellent teaser opportunity in a close contest that neither team truly wants to win but will give 100% toward performing their best.
Here’s hoping along with solving the giant pass interference problem the NFL comes out of the closet admitting they accept sports wagering in America by next season. Everybody will feel better about it with much more “integrity” possible.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.