Sports are unquestionably different in 2020. Since the coronavirus shutdown halted all leagues, things have been drastically unusual for professional sports around the world.
The NFL season is just around the corner and will soon be joining this weird new world.
Despite the fact that most of college football won’t play this fall, the NFL will.
This is huge news for football fans and West Virginia sportsbooks. Even though sports betting figures are up lately thanks to the return of several popular markets, the fall would be a major letdown without football.
Not to mention, the retail books and online sports betting apps are trying to make up for lost time. Between the months of April and August, there was not a lot to wager on, and that showed in the weekly revenue reports.
The majority of retail locations are back open, though, and the online sportsbooks continue to offer great promotions with sports coming back. These mobile platforms include:
All three are great options and can fulfill all of your NFL betting needs in just a few weeks.
This fall will be one that sports fans have never seen before. Both the NHL and NBA playoffs will overlap with part of the sports calendar that’s typically reserved for the gridiron.
Bettors will have the opportunity to wager on the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals in the middle of the NFL season.
There is also going to be limited college football betting this year, as well. Thankfully, WVU football and the Big 12 Conference are part of the contingency trying to still compete.
Let’s examine all of the particulars surrounding this NFL season and take a look at some of the changes implemented due to COVID-19.
No NFL bubble
Interestingly enough, the NFL chose not to play this year in a type of bubble. Even though basketball and hockey have been vastly successful to this point, pro football decided against it.
However, the NFL is in a much different situation from the NBA and NHL.
Both winter sports entered their respective bubbles with only a portion of the season to complete. Hockey jumped right into its postseason, and the NBA played about two weeks’ worth of games prior to starting its playoffs.
More importantly, both leagues didn’t invite every team back to their restart. Since they each completed most of the regular-season schedule, teams at the bottom of the standings didn’t join the bubble.
The NFL includes 32 total teams, which would be 10 more than the NBA’s bubble and eight more than the NHL.
Football’s season is also much longer than what the other two leagues have left to play. While the NFL cut out preseason games for 2020, there is still a 17-week slate with every team playing 16 games.
Being contained in a bubble away from your family and loved ones for over four months is extremely difficult.
It should also be noted that NFL teams are much larger than any other sport. Basketball teams feature around 15 players, while the NFL is closer to 50 on game day.
Of course, this would make the logistics of creating a bubble that much harder. With all of these key factors in mind, the NFL strayed away from this idea for this season.
Although, the league has not ruled out some sort of “secure environment” for the upcoming postseason.
This would be much easier to pull off with just the playoff teams competing and there only being a few weeks of games to squeeze in.
Fans at NFL games
Instead of enforcing a bubble format, team members and players must adhere to a series of strict guidelines at the team facility and in the community.
Hopefully this plan turns out better for the NFL than it has for some MLB teams.
Organizations like the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have had to miss plenty of games because of coronavirus outbreaks.
A major difference between the NFL and all of the other restarts we’ve seen thus far is the availability of fans.
Every popular sports league, including the PGA Tour and all of European soccer, has not allowed fans back yet. The NFL will join some college football programs in attempting to put fans in the stands this fall.
Like with everything else, this is strictly determined on a team-by-team basis. A lot of these decisions are based on the rules and current conditions in the states where these franchises play.
While the Miami Dolphins intend on hosting around 13,000 fans, or 20% capacity for their home opener, others do not.
The New England Patriots, which play in the same division as Miami, have ruled out fans at any regular-season games until October at the earliest.
Then there are the New York Jets and Giants, which both play in New Jersey. With the current state protocols in place, there will not be fans permitted at MetLife Stadium this fall “until further notice.”
This situation is just another reason why this NFL season is going to seem more bizarre than any in history.
Fans who are interested in attending games this fall should stay tuned. Depending on the rules in the specific states and how teams choose to react, fan accessibility will constantly be updating.
NFL’s COVID-19 plan
The league has a thorough COVID-19 testing policy in place. When training camp initially opened, players and staff were tested every day for the first two weeks.
If positive test results dropped below 5%, then teams could move to administering tests every other day.
But as most of the country has learned, there is not a perfect science to combating the coronavirus because of so many unknowns. This has led to a number of changes in health procedures.
Players who now test positive will receive two more tests the following day to confirm the positive result. During that time the team member must self-isolate until the tests come back.
If both of those tests come back negative, then the person is considered free of COVID-19 and can return to practice.
These new rules have been adapted because of how many false positives the NFL was seeing.
Most recently, 77 false-positive tests all returned as negative. After scaring a good portion of the league, it was discovered that there was “isolated contamination” at a testing lab in NJ.
Otherwise, if players do test positive, there are two possible outcomes.
If they have symptoms, 10 days must pass before they can return. If they do not show any signs, they can resume football activities within five days, with two negative tests.
Testing policies may continually change as the season goes on.
As far as players deciding that this season isn’t worth the health risk, many decided to opt out. Players had to notify their teams by Aug. 6.
In total, 67 players decided to opt out and not play football this season. Some of the most notable include the Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower, Eagles’ Marquise Goodwin, and the Giants’ Nate Solder.
NFL betting in 2020
With so many things changing at once, bettors have to consider how all of these moving parts might affect NFL betting this year. NFL wagering is one of the most popular markets offered at sportsbooks and should generate lots of betting handle at WV sportsbooks.
One massive difference with this NFL season is that football won’t be alone. The NBA and NHL playoffs are set to overlap the start of the season as they both probably won’t conclude until October.
This will make for a busy first month or two of the season at sportsbooks. Even though this is usually a great thing, it’s possible books pay less attention to the NFL.
That could mean potentially fewer promotions or odds boosts for the start of the season. Of course, the NFL is usually the most popular market available, but a lot of bettors will have their attention on the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals.
It’s possible that sportsbooks aren’t as all-in on NFL games, especially on nights when multiple sports are playing.
In regards to actually putting action down on games, bettors have a few more things to look at this season.
Teams used to receive more points for playing on the road; however, that will be vastly different this year. As mentioned, whether fans are allowed at games varies by state and team.
Bettors need to be aware of the fan policy of each game and how that might impact the point spread or the game.
Another noteworthy item this season is which players are sick and have tested positive. Similar to knowing the injury report for the given week, bettors should now also keep an eye on any news regarding players getting COVID-19.
In terms of strictly football analysis, bettors may want to avoid wagering on those with younger quarterbacks or head coaches.
Since so much of the offseason was spent conducting virtual meetings and workouts, inexperienced teams could struggle early on.
NFL odds at WV sportsbooks
The 2020 season is set to get underway on Thursday, Sept. 10. Super Bowl champ Kansas City plays host to the Houston Texans. Stay tuned to PlayWV as we bring you the latest WV live betting odds.
Currently, DraftKings Sportsbook lists the following teams as the favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy this year:
- Kansas City Chiefs +600
- Baltimore Ravens +650
- San Francisco 49ers +900
- New Orleans Saints +1100
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1400
- Dallas Cowboys +1500
- New England Patriots +1800
- Philadelphia Eagles +1800
- Seattle Seahawks +2000
- Indianapolis Colts +2200