The race toward the NFL postseason has hit the final turn.
Seven weeks remain in the regular season. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams boast the league’s best records, just ahead of the New Orleans Saints.
Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes has emerged as the front-runner for NFL MVP, while the Chiefs trail the Rams and Saints as top contenders for the Super Bowl.
Lost in the shuffle are Pennsylvania-based franchises.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, after all, have the inside track toward a third-straight AFC North championship. The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, sit in a tie for second place in the NFC East. The Eagles are still alive, just two games behind the Washington Redskins.
Forget about the future — or PA sports betting futures, as it were — for a minute, though. How have Pittsburgh and Philadelphia performed at sportsbooks?
For that, we turn to BetStars, the latest of eight mobile sportsbooks operating in nearby New Jersey.
PA teams drawing most of the action
According to data from BetStars, which launched in the Garden State in mid-September, Pennsylvania’s NFL teams have attracted most of the betting action across the river.
Per the bookmaker, the most bet-on teams this season include:
- New England Patriots
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Kansas City Chiefs
- New York Giants
- Pittsburgh Steelers
That said, the Steelers jump near the top of the list in terms of percentage of total wagers accepted, outdone by only the New York Giants.
- New York Giants: 9.8%
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 5.0%
- Kansas City Chiefs: 4.8%
- Dallas Cowboys: 4.6%
- New Orleans Saints: 4.1%
The Eagles, meanwhile, fall just outside the top 10 in this category, accounting for 3.3 percent of total bets.
Home field provides no advantage
Apparently, team location does not play as big a role as one would imagine.
Of course, the proximity to MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, allows NJ sportsbooks to take advantage of fandom.
As a result, at one time or another, several bookmakers in the Garden State rolled out promotions for regional teams.
Despite all of that, the popularity of the Steelers at BetStars still holds strong. It nears that of the nearby Giants and blows away the likes of the Jets and the Eagles, who play a stone’s throw away from New Jersey.
Of course, Pittsburgh’s strong national following can explain some of that. The Steelers, similar to the effect of the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, boast fandom all over the country. As such, they carry a more prevalent role than the Eagles.
Steelers prove more reliable
When it comes to actual performance, both on the field and on the betting slip, the two Pennsylvania franchises sit on opposite ends of the spectrum.
According to BetStars, the Steelers are among the best against the spread. Pittsburgh’s 6-3 record ATS trails only the Chiefs (8-2) and Saints (7-2).
Conversely, Philadelphia can thank three teams that have allowed the Eagles not to be the NFL’s worst team against the spread.
In nine games, Philly has covered just three times, tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons for third-worst in the league. Bottoming out the rankings are the 49ers and Jets, both at 3-7, and the Raiders, at 2-7.
What does it all mean?
The first Pennsylvania sports betting operation, Hollywood Sportsbook, powered by bookmaker William Hill US, officially opens Saturday. While the wintry weather could certainly deter the state’s first bettors, surely there will be a few who make their way to the Grantville casino.
And no doubt the NFL will garner most of the attention.
While this data comes from only one sportsbook, it provides some insight for bettors who plow through the snow over the weekend.
Consider the Week 11 games involving Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
The Steelers travel to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game in which BetStars has Pittsburgh favored by 5.5 points. Philly, meanwhile, visits the Saints as eight-point underdogs.
The first weekend of PA sports betting will likely take center stage at Hollywood Casino on Saturday. Why not head into the day with some fact-filled information (Steelers to cover, Eagles to not) to celebrate?
Photo by Bill Raymond / Shutterstock.com