The NFL season is right around the corner, and it’s an open question whether online betting apps in West Virginia will be live by kickoff. Sports bettors certainly hope so because football is big in the Mountain State.
Without a professional football team to call its own, West Virginian’s have to look elsewhere for a rooting interest come Monday Night Football. While you will find fans of every NFL team throughout the state, four teams stand out as favorites in West Virginia. Check our full guide to betting on the NFL in West Virginia here:
Last Season: 9-6-1, second in the AFC North
Players to watch:
- Ben Roethlisberger
- James Conner
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Devin Bush, LB (first-round draft pick)
- Justin Layne, CB (third-round draft pick)
- Steven Nelson, CB (free agent)
The Steelers were up and down in 2018. Beginning the season with a tie against the Browns, early-season inconsistency proved costly. A Week 16 loss to the Saints left the Steelers out of the playoffs – only the fifth time since 2001.
There were some bright spots, though. That included a six-game winning streak in the middle of the season but was followed by three straight losses. The team also had a nice December win over the Patriots.
Fans will be left wondering if last season was an anomaly or are the Steelers fading. Ben Roethlisberger threw for more than 5,000 yards and 34 TDs but was hurt by 16 interceptions.
The defense also struggled at times, finishing 16th in points allowed per game. Pittsburgh made moves in the draft to help that, adding linebacker Devin Bush and cornerback Justin Layne early in the draft.
Cornerback Steven Nelson was also signed in the offseason. The former Chief set career highs with four interceptions and 15 pass breakups last season. Safety Mark Barron coming over from the Rams could also be significant.
It will be easy to argue that turmoil played a role in Pittsburgh’s struggles. Le’Veon Bell’s contract holdout loomed over much of the season. Antonio Brown then became a late-season distraction.
Both are now gone, and the team will be looking to bounce back. James Conner filled in nicely at running back with 973 yards and 12 TDs. He will be looking to build on that success.
JuJu Smith-Schuster notched 1,426 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. How he will do with Brown gone remains to be seen. The addition of former Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief may provide another option for Roethlisberger.
The Steelers remain a question mark for the upcoming season.
Betting angle: Finished 8-7-1 against the spread in 2018. The defense should be improved, and Pittsburgh should offer some value. If the offense remains potent look for potential over wagers.
Last Season: 7-9, third in the NFC East
Players to watch:
- Adrian Peterson
- Case Keenum
- Jamison Crowder
- Dwayne Haskins, QB (first-round draft pick)
- Montez Sweat, OLB (second-round draft pick)
- Case Keenum, QB (free agent)
- Landon Collins, SS (free agent)
After a promising 5-2 start, the Redskins cratered in the second half of the season. They finished 2-7 the last nine games, hampered by injuries including Alex Smith missing the last six games.
The defense finished in the middle of the NFL pack, averaging 22.4 points per game (15th). Landon Collins should help improve that platoon in the secondary.
The biggest problem for Washington was the offense. The Redskins finished 29th in scoring with a measly 17.6 per game.
Head coach Jay Gruden will have to improve on that if he hopes to coach in the capital beyond the upcoming season.
The Skins grabbed quarterback Dwayne Haskins and his fellow Ohio State Buckeye, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, in hopes of adding offensive firepower.
Adrian Peterson returns at running back, but he’s definitely on the downhill of his career at age 34.
The Redskins also added more help on offense through free agency. Case Keenum takes the reins at QB and should provide some improvement behind center.
A mixed bag of wide receivers (Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Jordan Reed) have yet to prove themselves. Keenum will need one of those to step up.
Betting angle: Finished 9-7 against the spread in 2018. It may not have been a great season for Washington, but the Redskins awarded bettors and kept games close. Still, the Redskins seem like a real gamble week to week.
Last Season: 7-8-1, third in the AFC North
Players to watch:
- Baker Mayfield
- Nick Chubb
- Jamie Collins
- Greedy Williams, CB (second-round draft pick)
- Sione Takitaki, LB (third-round draft pick)
- Sheldon Richardson, DT (free agent)
Hue Jackson’s midseason firing as head coach was good for Cleveland. After a 2-5-1 start, interim coach Greg Williams led the Browns to a 5-3 record the rest of the way.
Cleveland came within a tie with the Steelers short of its first non-losing season since 2007. New head coach Freddie Kitchens (promoted from interim offensive coordinator) has a chance to build on a nice 2018.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was a big part of that – finishing with more than 3,700 passing yards and 27 TDs. The interceptions were a bit high with 14, but he brought energy to a team that needed it.
The team was led by running back Nick Chubb (996 rushing yards, 8 TDs) and wide receiver Jarvis Landry (976 yards, 4 TDs). Cleveland made a few free-agent signings in the offseason to help shore up the offensive line.
The defense will need to improve after finishing 21st in average points per game. There were some bright spots. Linebacker Jamie Collins is a beast and led the team in tackles.
Safety Damarious Randall recorded four interceptions and defensive end Myles Garrett recorded 13.5 sacks. The Browns made significant additions on defense in the draft and cornerback Greedy Williams, and linebacker Sione Takitaki should be nice additions.
The addition of former Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson should make for an imposing defensive front.
Betting angle: The Browns were an impressive 10-6 against the spread in 2018. Be cautious, however, they’re still the Browns.
Cleveland has appeared to be a team on the rise before, finishing 7-9 in 2014. Records of 3-13, 1-15, and 0-16 followed the next three seasons. Despite that history, the Browns have plenty of pieces in place to be a wagering option each week.
Last Season: 6-10, fourth in the AFC North
Players to watch:
- Andy Dalton
- Joe Mixon
- Tyler Boyd
- Shawn Williams
- Jonah Williams, OL (first-round draft pick)
- John Miller (free agent)
The season started off promising for the Bengals in 2018. But after a 4-1 start, the rails came off. That included four losses to division foes the Steelers and Browns.
At running back, Joe Mixon produced a nice year with almost 1,200 yards rushing and 8 TDs. He should be a big player for the Bengals in 2019.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd had a breakout season and caught over 1,000 yards and 7 TDs. Quarterback Andy Dalton struggled as did the offensive line at times. Management hopes its first-round pick, offensive lineman Jonah Williams, solidifies the line.
Former Buffalo Bills guard John Miller was also signed to help in that effort upfront.
The defense was the big downfall for the Bengals in 2018, finishing 30th for 28.4 points per game. Injuries in the linebacker corps didn’t help. One standout was Shawn Williams, who led the team in tackles and grabbed five interceptions.
Third-round OLB Germaine Platt is expected to help. The Bengals had big holes on defense, however, and took a tight end in the second round. They did bring in cornerback B.W. Webb, who should help in the secondary.
Betting angle: The Bengals were 9-7 against the spread last season, but appear to be rebuilding.
With the revived Browns and Steelers in the division, can they scrape together enough wins for a playoff run? Probably not. Bettors might also steer clear of Cincinnati until they can show more consistency on defense. It might be a good bet to put some money on the Rams on Oct 27.
Sports betting on football in West Virginia
Both NFL and WVU football bring out the bettors in West Virginia. In fact, some sports bettors wait all year for football.
Currently, bettors have a choice of three retail sportsbooks in WV:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
The West Virginia Lottery has also already approved three online sports betting apps, but none have entered the market yet.
There is no disputing that football is the most popular sport with bettors and plenty will head to the live sportsbooks in WV and possibly north to Pennsylvania.
Bettors will always find a way to bet. However, an online sportsbook is necessary for WV to capitalize on sports betting.