This is not a typical September weekend for sports betting in the Keystone State.
The two home-state NFL teams got prime-time assignments straddling the main Sunday slate, with the Eagles prevailing Thursday night at Lambeau Field (more on that later in the article) and the Steelers closing out the week with a Monday night game against Cincinnati at Heinz Field.
The two home-state baseball teams come into the final weekend of the season playing only for pride (if that). The Pirates finish against the Reds in a battle of the NL Central’s two worst teams, while the once-promising Phillies, losers of six straight, need to win two of three against the Marlins just to finish .500.
Sure, there’s still plenty to bet on across the national scene, from a handful of MLB games with playoff implications to intriguing NFL showdowns like Cowboys-Saints, Patriots-Bills (somewhat surprisingly, a battle of unbeatens), Chiefs-Lions (very surprisingly, a battle of unbeatens), and Vikings-Bears.
But when it comes to local rooting interests, the main event of the sports betting weekend is clear: the 12th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions trying to remain undefeated on the road against Big Ten East rival Maryland, kicking off Friday night at 8 p.m.
Lions and turtles and bets, oh my
The spread on Penn State vs. Maryland, after fluctuating between PSU -6 and PSU -7 during the week at most sportsbooks, has settled at -6½ at all five legal online sportsbooks in PA (FanDuel Sportsbook, FOX Bet, and the three sites with identical odds from bookmaker Kambi, Play SugarHouse, BetRivers, and Parx).
But there is some variation on some of the other primary betting lines.
|Spread||PSU moneyline||Maryland moneyline||Total|
|FanDuel||Penn State -6.5||-245||+195||61|
|FOX Bet||Penn State -6.5||-250||+200||60.5*|
|Kambi sites||Penn State -6.5||-235||+185||60.5|
The value in having accounts at multiple sites is obvious from looking at the moneyline prices. It’s just a few nickels on the dollar, but clearly FOX Bet is the place to bet the Terrapins to win outright and the Kambi sites have the best deal on Penn State.
As for the total, this one figures to see some points scored, and there’s no reason to bet over 61 at FanDuel or under 60.5 on a Kambi site when you can get a free half-point elsewhere. The FOX Bet total is interesting, though, because the over, as of Friday around noon, costs -118, and the under is +100. So there’s a debate to be had, if you like the under, between betting under 60.5 for even money at FOX Bet and paying -110 juice to go under 61 at FanDuel Sportsbook and push if it lands on 61.
Nationally, reports suggest that the spread ticket count has been fairly even, while about three-quarters of the bets on the total (since it opened at 60) have been on the over. That shouldn’t be too surprising, given that Maryland has gone over 60 by itself in two of its three games and Penn State is averaging 47 points scored per game.
Penn State-Maryland boosts and promos
Bettors are always welcome to make the standard bets in the table above or any player props or team props they like, but a couple of the online books are trying to entice action with potentially higher-EV offers.
FanDuel Sportsbook is continuing to offer “Close Loss Insurance,” meaning a moneyline bet on a team that loses by no more than 6 points gets refunded (opt-in required).
CFB Close Loss Insurance 👀
Place a pregame moneyline bet on tonight's game between Penn State and Maryland. If your team loses by 6 or less points, we’ll refund you up to $50 in site credit 💰
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) September 27, 2019
FanDuel also has an odds boost, from +225 to +300, on a parlay of Penn State covering -6.5 and the game total going over 62.5. (The max bet on the boost is $50.)
Meanwhile FOX Bet has PSU-Maryland at the center of its weekly “money back” offer on a bet designed by “Cousin Sal” Iacono. It’s similar to the FD boost, here paying +300 if Penn State covers a -9.5 spread and the game goes over 60 points. But in addition to the arguably appealing odds, if the bet loses, you get your money back up to $25, so there’s really no risk. The catch, however, is that the refund comes in the form of a “free bet,” and if and when your free bet of up to $25 wins, you don’t keep the $25 — you only keep the winnings.
Other FanDuel sports betting specials
While the Kambi sites aren’t offering anything beyond their standard deposit bonuses and the other FOX Bet boosts for the weekend haven’t been revealed yet, FanDuel does have a handful of interesting promotions outside Friday’s night college football showdown.
Of course, FD’s “Close Loss Insurance” applies to all NFL and NCAA football moneylines.
There’s also an odds boost on new Giants quarterback Daniel Jones scoring a rushing touchdown against Washington, with a return of +570. “Danny Dimes” scored two last week in his first game as a starter and tallied an impressive 17 rushing TDs in 36 games over three seasons at Duke. Needless to say, +570 is awfully attractive for something that his personal history suggests is somewhere around a 50/50 shot.
FanDuel is also offering one last chance for a run bonus during the MLB regular season with Friday night’s Mets-Braves game. If you place a moneyline bet of at least $25 on either team, you’ll get a $5 credit for every run your team scores. The Mets are -138 with Marcus Stroman on the mound, while the visiting Braves, behind Dallas Keuchel and with the second playoff seed clinched, are +120 ’dogs.
Thursday night rewind
For those PA bettors who like backing the Philly teams, Thursday night’s NFL game between the Eagles and Packers was a win all around. The Eagles covered as four-point ‘dogs, won outright as about a +170 moneyline bet (we saw it as high as +200 at FanDuel Sportsbook on Tuesday afternoon), and the over hit in the third quarter.
FOX Bet was all but giving away cash with one special odds boost on the game, offering even money (up to $25) on Carson Wentz to throw at least one TD. For the 27th time in 28 starts, the Eagles’ signal caller delivered on that modest goal.
FOX Bet also posted an intriguing boost last night on Packers receiver Davante Adams, offering +850 (up from +750) on the star WR to tally more than 6.5 receptions, more than 85.5 receiving yards, and at least one touchdown. He shredded the first two requirements, catching 10 balls for 180 yards, but couldn’t haul one in for a TD before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a toe injury.
Looking ahead: With a slightly easier remaining schedule than the undefeated Cowboys (on paper), the 2-2 Birds are now +140 to win the NFC East at FanDuel and FOX Bet (and +130 at the Kambi sites).
For the moment, we’ll spare Steelers fans the pain of seeing what their team’s AFC North odds are. But if they get off the schneid against the Bengals on Monday night, maybe it’ll be worth a look.
Photo by Matthew O’Haren / USA Today Sports