It’s hard to explain to the younger, modern NFL fan, but there was once a time when you could only watch games on Sunday, with a primetime single-game special landing on Monday night.
Today, the National Football League has grown into a business juggernaut, and it’s capitalized on the frenzy created by fans by now having games on Sunday and Monday, but also expanding to Thursday night and the occasional Saturday game slate, as well.
If you combine that with college and high school football games, you can almost watch the pigskin get thrown and carried on the gridiron all week long.
Fans aren’t the only ones who have more football on their schedules. Bettors across NY have access to legal NY sportsbooks. As that trend continues, the number of bettors is only going to grow.
You may be wondering how the various weekly games impact lines, bets and props. Or perhaps you’re wondering about betting tips for the various game days and game nights.
We’ve assembled this game day guide as a reference. In it, we’ll cover the various days of the week when the NFL plays, provide tips and strategies, and take a deep dive into the various game times and what they might mean to bettors.
Some players love playing on a Monday night. Others despise it. Fans and bettors are the same.
Love it or hate it, you’re likely going to be betting on it if you like to wager on the NFL. The good news is, betting on Monday Night Football is just like wagering on any game on Sunday. The types of bets are the same, as is the handicapping. The game is played exactly the same way any other game is played; it’s just on its own in a primetime spot on television on a Monday night.
But what makes betting on MNF different? Well, first and foremost, it is technically the “last” game of the week despite being on a Monday. That means teams get an extra day of rest and prep work. But there’s also more attention on every detail of the game.
As a bettor, you get an extra day to be prepared, too. You won’t have any other games distracting you, and you can focus on every aspect of the teams and the upcoming contest.
Like other NFL games, you can expect to see opening football lines on Monday Night Football at least a week prior to the game — even before the teams play their games for that week. Once the lines are available, you’ll see them shift almost immediately following the completion of the contests the two opposing teams played the week leading into their MNF matchup.
Throughout the history of Monday Night Football, the teams that have picked up the most victories are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers. Those franchises have 49 victories each. The 49ers did have a chance to take the lead on Dec. 7, 2020, when they played the Buffalo Bills, but they lost the game, 34-24.
The team that has made the most Monday night appearances is the Miami Dolphins, with 79 primetime games.
As for which teams have the best records, as we stated above, the Steelers and the 49ers are the teams with the most wins, but which team has the highest winning percentage? That honor belongs to the Seattle Seahawks, at 23-8 for a .742 winning percentage.
When it comes to placing bets on Monday Night Football, you’ll find that the same bet types as for Sunday (or Thursday or Saturday) games are all just as interesting for primetime.
Moneylines, point spreads, totals and props are all essentially the same on a Monday night as they are on a Sunday afternoon or evening. But one bet does seem to stand out a little with bettors: live, or in-game, betting.
Live betting takes place while the action is playing out on the field. You’ll need access to an online sports betting app to get involved — traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks just can’t keep up with the ever-changing odds of live bets.
With live betting, you are engaged in the game in a way that betting never really allowed before. Any time you place money on a bet, you will be invested in the outcome. Being involved with in-game betting just makes it slightly easier to get engrossed in everything happening on the field.
Since there is typically just a single Monday Night Football game, placing live bets on that particular contest means you have no other games to distract you, and you can fully focus on the wagers happening in real-time right before your eyes.
As for bets to avoid, the truth is there isn’t anything you need to worry about throwing you off your game, as long as you’re doing your homework and following your betting strategy. However, it is key to pay attention to actual news, such as injury reports and other information, and don’t get caught up in the hype that the media tends to build around this higher-profile contest.
Playing at home on a Monday night doesn’t give a team any more advantage than it does on a Sunday afternoon. Use the resources at your disposal to figure out which team has the advantage, and don’t worry about the “story” being told about the matchup.
The more you stick to a betting strategy that works and the more you avoid the hype, the better your wagers will do in the long run.
Because Monday Night Football games are technically the last game of the week’s slate, the teams that play in it have an opportunity to rest and prepare for an additional day over a normal week.
That works well for those who have been trying to come back from an injury, so you might see a player come back who would not have had that extra day if the contest had been scheduled for a Sunday kickoff. However, sometimes the primetime spotlight can push a player to come back a bit too early, so make sure to keep tabs on how injured players have been doing at practice leading up to the MNF matchup.
Additionally, teams playing on Monday night also have an extra day to prepare for each other, which means the defenses should be slightly more stout than normal. Of course, just because something should be the case doesn’t mean it will be.
Sportsbooks often run specials, or promos, for particular events. For example, you might get the chance at some free bets, or an odds boost, for wagering on a certain contest.
Any time you’re already planning on making a wager and you come across the opportunity to take part in a promo or a bonus at a sportsbook, you should just consider it a bonus. That’s why it is always a good idea to not only take a look at the various sportsbooks available to you for the best lines on a game you’re going to bet on, but also to see if there are any kind of specials that will help you stretch your money even further.
You can catch every MNF game on ESPN, which has the broadcast rights. For those living in the Eastern Time Zone, the games start at 8:15 p.m.
If you’re a cord-cutter and you want to find a way to watch the games without having cable, then you can also use the ESPN app or ESPN.com, though you will still need to have an ESPN account in order to access the live stream.
Some sportsbooks and other sports apps do have agreements to stream games through their platforms, such as the Yahoo Sports app. Make sure to check with the various sportsbooks you use to see if you can watch the game through their app.
In 2020, if you watched a Monday Night Football game, you probably heard Steve Levy on the play-by-play while Brian Griese and Louis Riddick worked as analysts. The three of them have a combined 45 years of broadcasting experience.
Remember the days when the only time we watched Thursday football was on Thanksgiving? Families would gather around the television, turkey and stuffing piled on their plate, and watch the Detroit Lions play (like in 1962 when the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre” found Detroit sacking Green Bay’s Bart Starr 11 times).
Nowadays, you don’t have to wait until Turkey Day to get your Thursday football fix. Beginning in 2006 on the NFL Network, Thursday Night Football was born. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that such games became a weekly event.
Technically the first game of the week’s slate, Thursday contests can be the most unpredictable. That’s because teams take the field after a short week of practice, and players who were banged up the week prior may not have had enough time to fully recover.
The New England Patriots have set the pace in Thursday Night Football games. They have gone 8-1 in their nine TNF appearances, for a winning percentage of .889. Right behind them at 7-2 over their nine appearances are the Seattle Seahawks, while the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone 9-3 in their Thursday night games.
The team with the most overall appearances is the 49ers, with a league-leading 15 Thursday night games (8-7). The Denver Broncos have been featured 14 times (7-7), while four teams have played 13 times each: Dallas Cowboys (9-4), Baltimore Ravens (9-4), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) and Carolina Panthers (4-9).
The team with the fewest wins is the Detroit Lions, 1-1 in two appearances — which is also the fewest times a team has appeared on Thursday Night Football (we’re not counting regular Thanksgiving Day games). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8), Buffalo Bills (2-6) and Minnesota Vikings (2-4) each have just two wins.
The good news is that all of the bets you’re accustomed to for NFL betting will be available to you for Thursday night games, as well.
The NFL betting lines are typically available just before the previous week’s games, and those lines then begin to adjust as soon as those games are finished. Injury reports and news items can also change the lines, as well as public wagering.
Because there is usually just one TNF game a week, it is pretty easy to find information and hunt for the best sports betting odds at the various sportsbooks. It also gives you the same opportunity to be laser-focused on the game for live betting.
Keep in mind, however, that having a shortened week does indeed impact the level of play from a team. Fewer days to prepare for an opponent, less time to recover from the previous game and the potential for more injuries.
So while you can make any bet that is typically available for an NFL game, you really should be wary about making bets based on the average team performance. It is quite possible both teams will underperform during the contest.
While you don’t have to sit out betting on Thursday Night Football games, you could simply reduce your risk by limiting your bets. We would definitely recommend getting involved with live betting, as it reduces how much damage a lack of information leading up to the game can cause, but you’ll be able to track on-field action, gauge how well a player or a team is doing, and make your wagers based on real-time data vs. what is available to the public during a shortened week.
Depending on the sportsbook, you should be able to find specials for the games on Thursdays. These games don’t receive as much betting as those on Sunday, or even Monday night, and books usually want to keep their numbers up.
To that end, there are often promotions running, such as odds boosts, at various sportsbooks. Make sure to shop around to find the best lines and the best deals, and use the links through this website to access promos and bonuses for any new account you create.
One thing you can pretty much guarantee will have bonuses is the annual Thanksgiving games. Those will offer boosts or free bets or deposit bonuses — especially for new accounts.
For example, theScore Bet sportsbook last year offered $200 in free bets to new users who signed up and made a bet on the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team game. Shop around, though. You never know which sportsbook is going to have the best offers.
Unlike Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football, the games played on Thursdays change networks throughout the season.
In 2020, NBC hosted the first Thursday game, while the NFL Network showed the next three weeks. From Weeks 5 to 11, it was split between Fox and the NFL Network, went back to NBC for Week 12 — the Thanksgiving game — and then back to Fox and the NFL Network for the final four games.
If you’re looking to stream the games, you’ll want to check out Amazon Prime, which had multiple 2020 games. NBC will stream on its website and NBC Sports app for the games it shows, as well. Additionally, you can use the Yahoo Sports app to watch most primetime NFL games.
When you do watch the games, you’ll hear Al Michaels or Mike Tirico along with Cris Collinsworth for NBC games, while Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be on the air for the NFL Network and Fox games.
It may seem like Saturday NFL games are something really recent that started popping up, but the truth is that it has been going on since 1952.
They’ve always been limited, of course, and from 1952 to 1972, those games were scattered throughout the regular season. But since 1972, the league has restricted Saturday games to only December and January.
Out of the past 50 years, the NFL has had Saturday games in 49 of those seasons. It just tries to keep them limited.
The primary reason for that is college football, which is mostly finished by December with the exception of some bowl games. Well, that and the 1961 Sports Broadcasting Act that basically says college football and NFL broadcasts should avoid typically overlapping.
Here’s a nice little explainer from the folks over at Mental Floss:
“After two attempts to sell the NFL’s broadcasting rights were declared illegal because of antitrust concerns, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle headed to the Hill to whip up support. In 1961, Congress passed the Sports Broadcasting Act, which exempted broadcasting rights by major sports leagues from antitrust decisions and cleared the way for the NFL to sell a broadcasting package to CBS, where all teams share the rights equally.
“However, the law is more famous for helping to set the NFL broadcasting schedule. To protect fans of college and high school football, Congress also approved language that barred professional games on Fridays and Saturdays during the schools’ seasons. The NFL still stays away from those days outside of rare exceptions, like when Christmas falls on a Friday. The Act also led to the blackout policy, which lets the league block games from a home market broadcast area if they have not sold out.”
The 2020 season found the NFL stepping into the Saturday schedule a few more times than it usually does. There were multiple games scheduled in Weeks 15 and 16 and, of course, the postseason Saturday games, as well.
For you, the NFL bettor, the landscape remains the same for your available bets and the information at your disposal for research and handicapping strategies. Even though there is one fewer day to prepare for a game than those scheduled on Sunday, it isn’t nearly as impactful on teams as playing on Thursday nights.
You’ll need to pay better attention to the injury reports leading up to Saturday and keep track of key players and how much they were able to practice and why they didn’t if that’s the case.
The good news is there are often Saturday NFL game specials at sportsbooks, including odds boosts and parlays.
Like the other games on the schedule, the initial lines for the NFL Saturday slate are released just before the games being held the week prior. From there, the odds shift in accordance with how the teams fared the week before, as well as injury news and public wagering.
Now and again, you’ll come across a triple-header on a Saturday schedule. Since they are the only three games being played that day for NFL action, and a slew of college football games are usually also being played, it’s easy to wonder if the oddsmakers are paying as close attention as they could be, or if taking a three-game parlay is worth the risk.
Parlays are always difficult to pull off if only for the reason that you have to get all three games right or the bet will be a loss. If you really feel as though you have the right information, then a parlay can be worth it. The return on your bet would be significant, but the risk is quite high.
As for oddsmakers — it’s hard to say if they ever really aren’t paying attention, especially when it comes to the NFL. Even with all of the college football games on a Saturday afternoon, there are sportsbooks with oddsmakers who are dedicated to only working with the NFL. They will likely have the games researched from top to bottom.
However, we always suggest shopping around at the sportsbooks at your disposal to see if there are lines that work in your favor. If you plan on making a wager anyway, why not look for the NFL odds that give you the best return if you win?
This is the day all the NFL fans across the globe look forward to. The most games. The most action. The best of the best on the field doing all they can to secure the win.
It’s a bit magical if you’re a die-hard, that’s for sure.
But what about bettors? Of course, they look forward to Sunday NFL action as much as anyone else, but are they anticipating the early or late games more? Do they find better value in wagering on the Sunday matchups in comparison to the other days?
All bettors are distinct. They’re people, after all. They all have their own preferences and favorite ways of doing things. If they didn’t, it sure would be boring, right? So while we can’t answer the above questions with a sweeping statement, we can give you some interesting information.
A study in 2018 came to the conclusion that professional football players perform better during primetime contests. Fewer injuries, fewer turnovers and fewer mental mistakes happen at night compared to the afternoon games.
Why? Well, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says the difference is because of circadian-regulated alertness. How accurate are the results from this study? We’re not scientists, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
What the study is suggesting is you’re likely to see the best performances from teams that don’t have to wake up early to get to the field to get ready for the game. They are more alert, aware and functional for primetime matchups.
Despite that, it’s still Sunday afternoon that rules the airwaves and the sportsbooks. Sunday is the heaviest betting day for all of the NFL schedule, especially when there are 13 games on a single day.
If you’re wondering if it is the best day to place NFL wagers, we’d have to say it is indeed. It has the most focus from the pundits and the folks who make their living breaking down games and previews. It has the most action. It has the most possible wagers. Plus, with the Sunday night game, you can build a parlay if you want with the evening contest as the final leg (remember that parlays are difficult to win, though).
Don’t overlook the joys of live betting for Sundays, either. The action is fast, but it’s a lot of fun. Plus you can get in on some second-half bets late in the game.
The final game of the Sunday slate is a nice time to unwind and relax while you watch some football before going to bed.
There are pretty good odds you’ll see the Dallas Cowboys at some point — they have the most Sunday Night Football appearances, with 49. The Cowboys also hold the record for the most wins for Sunday night games with 24, as well as the most Sunday night losses with 25.
You might also get to see some high-scoring games. In 2011, the New Orleans Saints scored a record for SNF with 62 points. They obliterated the Indianapolis Colts, who had just seven. The highest combined score is 83, which has happened twice. In 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants, 45-38. In 2018, the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 43-40. The lowest combined score? A whopping 12 points when the Seattle Seahawks tied the Arizona Cardinals at 6-6 in 2016.
The games typically begin at 8:15 p.m. ET and are available on NBC. You can also use the NBC website or sports app.
You’ll get an announcing team that either has Al Michaels or Mike Tirico on play-by-play and Cris Collinsworth on color commentating. On the sidelines will be either Michele Tafoya or Kathryn Tappen, and Terry McAulay will be the rules expert.
Are you ready to start betting on the NFL? Well, we’ve got a couple of tips for you. Keep in mind that these are hardly the end-all of NFL betting tips, but they’re a good place to start when you’re first building your betting strategy.
For Thursday Night Football, the key is to remember that it is the first game of the week for the NFL schedule, and the teams playing are going to have a shorter amount of time to be prepared. Pay attention to injury reports and news coming out of the games the teams played the previous weekend, and follow those injury reports right up until the game. If players are sitting out of practice, then there are reasons for that. Or even if they are limiting themselves during practice.
For Saturday football, you can be comforted in knowing that the day of rest and preparation the teams will lose out on when compared to playing on Sunday is negligible. Do your homework and follow the team trends, keep an eye on the weather and stay on top of news and injury information.
Once Sunday rolls around, you should be using your normal NFL betting research and strategies. Teams have had their normal week to prepare and to rest up. This is a good opportunity to enjoy some in game betting as well as take advantage of the information available for every game on the slate. You really cannot find more resources for your wagering than you can for Sunday football.
To end the NFL weekly schedule, Monday Night Football is a primetime event that gets a lot of attention. It’s the only game that day for the NFL, and there will be a lot of information available for you to make your bets with. Our best advice for this one is to not get caught up in the hype around the game. There will generally be some kind of storyline to whet the appetite for football. But that’s all it is, a story. Stick to your research and don’t wager with your gut or your heart.