With Week 1 of NFL preseason action in the books, we’re starting to get some feedback on how the newly legal sports betting engaged fans in New Jersey. This is the first opportunity for fans of the country’s biggest sport to wager on games taking place in their home state. Conveniently (for them, perhaps not the teams), FanDuel Sportsbook opened last month at the Meadowlands racetrack, in the same facility that holds MetLife Stadium, home to the Giants and Jets.
While the two teams don’t directly compete in the standings, the rivalry in the New York market is just as real and relevant as the Daily News versus the New York Post, Rangers vs. Devils, even Ray’s Pizza versus Two Brothers. Each team enjoys pockets of support (Big Blue in Manhattan and North Jersey, Gang Green in Queens and Long Island). Now, with the opening of the sportsbook and data on wagers, we may finally get to see who’s A-1 in Gotham.
We’ve already seen movement on the Super Bowl odds since books opened across New Jersey in June. The Giants’ odds to hoist their fifth Lombardi trophy has shrunk from 50-1 to 15-1. Many politicians making the “historical first bet” at the new venues put some money down on the G-Men.
Giants vs. Browns
Week 1 in the NFL preseason kicked off on Thursday night with 12 games on the slate. Noteworthy on the card was the meeting of the top two draft picks from this year, as Baker Mayfield and the Browns visited Saquon Barkley and the Giants. FanDuel reported that 30% of their overall NFL handle that evening went on the game over a couple parking lots.
Perhaps more noteworthy is the way the line shifted. The Giants opened 1.5 point favorites at FanDuel. When the game started, they were 0.5 point underdogs. TheScore App listed the game as a pick-em. That suggests the betting public liked the Browns substantially more than Big Blue. FanDuel didn’t release any stats on the moneyline. However, the movement looks very similar to data from Vegas Insider, which showed almost every book they cover moved the line, some with the Giants favored by 3, to a nearly unanimous Cleveland -1 by kickoff. The Browns rewarded the public’s faith with a 20-10 win.
Falcons vs. Jets
Friday night’s contest, one of just two on the schedule, saw 34% of FanDuel’s NFL handle on the week’s second game at the Meadowlands. However, the public came out in force for the Jets. Eighty percent of the action (spread and ML) went to the hosts. The game opened Jets -2.5 on Aug. 3 and closed Jets -4.5. The Jets again made the public winners with a 17-0 whitewashing. Again, the line movement proved similar to what occurred in Vegas. Every book in the desert closed with New York favored by 4 or 4.5.
FanDuel moved its open date up a month to take action before the NFL season started. While there have been some hiccups, this data suggests they’re earning public confidence and have established line movements similar to what occurs in Las Vegas. With the release of an app, they will reportedly offer more data and analysis about betting behavior.
It will be interesting to see what occurs this week as both the Jets and Giants travel for preseason Week 2. The Jets are underdogs in Washington Thursday, while the Giants are dogs on Friday at Detroit. Next week will be the annual preseason Battle for Metlife Stadium.