The NFL is more popular than ever before, with record numbers of fans around the world glued to the screens every week to watch their favourite teams battle it out on the pitch. But with increased interest comes increased scrutiny, and the betting public is now more keen than ever to place wagers on who they think will win each match up.
To gauge public interest, Statista compared the online betting trends on each game of the 2018 NFL season to determine which games people are most interested in betting on. Using search interest data from Google Trends, we examined searches performed in the month leading up to each game compared to the pre-game average to determine the intensity of interest across three measures: interest, uncertainty, and volatility.
Interest In The NFL
Interest in the NFL was recorded at its highest ever levels in the month leading up to every game of the 2018 season. Across the league, game bets doubled from 16.7 bets per week to 33.3 bets per week, and overall bets increased from 45.55 bets per week to 66.66 bets per week. This is likely due to the expanding global reach of the NFL, as well as the increasing number of sportsbooks opening up to accommodate demand.
The number of searches performed per week increased by 13% in the month leading up to games compared to the average pre-game search volume, indicating that people are paying close attention to the NFL. But when it comes to which teams people are searching for, there is one clear standout: the New England Patriots. Searches for the Patriots went from 46.26 per week to 58.79 per week in the month leading up to games, while searches for the Los Angeles Rams decreased by 12% from 25.88 searches per week to 22.67 searches per week. This could be because people are interested in finding out more about the team that won the Superbowl for the past two seasons, or perhaps it’s due to increased media coverage of the team (like the popular ‘Tom Brady’s Twin Turbines’ podcast).
When it comes to betting on the NFL, nothing is certain except for one thing: everything is likely to change. With the season less than a week away, the lines are still somewhat open for a number of games, with a few teams in action having odds that favour one side and others that are surprisingly short. One team that caught our eye is the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, whose current odds of +500 seem rather high considering they are just 3-9 and have lost eight of their last ten games.
The Jaguars have seen a massive increase in searches in the month leading up to each of their ten games so far, with searches increasing by 45% in the month leading up to their game against the Houston Texans, 43% in their game against the Tennessee Titans, 54% in their game against the Indianapolis Colts, 79% in their game against the Baltimore Ravens, 79% in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 84% in their game against the New York Jets, 100% in their game against the Cleveland Browns, 109% in their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and 132% in their game against the Chicago Bears. Perhaps these teams are finding traction thanks to more people tuning into the NFL, or perhaps it’s due to clever marketing from the sportsbooks that has led to more people searching for these teams?
In economics, uncertainty is defined as the lack of complete or accurate knowledge or information about a situation or event. While there is still some amount of uncertainty as to the final results of the NFL season, there is little doubt that interest levels will remain extremely high throughout the year.
On average, searches for the Oakland Raiders fell 24% in the month leading up to each game compared to the average searches performed in the month before the season began. But the team that fans are most uncertain of are the Los Angeles Rams. With three of their first four games played at home, the Rams are guaranteed to draw a crowd – and more importantly, a bookmaker’s attentions – but their performance this year has been rather underwhelming. Even with the addition of former MVP Nick Foles at quarterback, it seems that many people expect the team to struggle this season and are therefore unlikely to back them for the many home games that they have left.
On average, searches for the Los Angeles Chargers decreased by 14% in the month leading up to each game compared to the average searches performed in the month before the season began. The Chargers were one of the most popular teams in pre-season, largely thanks to their exciting young stars like phenom quarterback Josh Rosen and edge rusher Joey Bosa, but their home games have only been sparsely attended this year and the team is reportedly struggling to sell tickets for their future home games. If your team is suffering from poor attendance, it might be time to call it a day and turn your attention to more successful teams like the New England Patriots who you can get odds on to win most games this season.
Which Games Are People Interested In Betting On?
With the 2018 NFL season less than a week away, the lines are still somewhat open for a number of games, meaning that people can still place bets on the matches. Looking at which games people are interested in placing wagers on, it is clear that the public are most interested in betting on the following games:
- Steelers vs. Browns (3/1) – 14.35 searches per week
- Patriots vs. Dolphins (3/1) – 13.59 searches per week
- Seahawks vs. Vikings (4/1) – 12.83 searches per week
- 49ers vs. Bears (3/1) – 12.71 searches per week
- Dolphins vs. Patriots (3/1) – 12.59 searches per week
- Ravens vs. Bengals (3/1) – 12.28 searches per week
- Chiefs vs. Texans (3/1) – 12.16 searches per week
- Jaguars vs. Texans (3/1) – 12.04 searches per week
- Jets vs. Patriots (7/1) – 11.68 searches per week
- Bills vs. Dolphins (3/1) – 11.26 searches per week
- Bears vs. 49ers (3/1) – 11.12 searches per week
- Colts vs. Steelers (7/1) – 10.85 searches per week
- Cardinals vs. Seahawks (3/1) – 10.78 searches per week
- Lions vs. Rams (3/1) – 10.43 searches per week
- Packers vs. Falcons (3/1) – 10.26 searches per week
- Vikings vs. Colts (3/1) – 10.19 searches per week
- Buccaneers vs. Texans (3/1) – 9.85 searches per week
However, there are also a number of exciting matches with significant point spreads that are drawing relatively little interest, with searches below 10 searches per week:
- Steelers vs. Bengals (1/3) – 3.92 searches per week
- Cowboys vs. Redskins (3/1) – 3.85 searches per week
- Dolphins vs. Jets (3/1) – 3.76 searches per week
- Titans vs. Colts (2/1) – 3.64 searches per week
- Bills vs. Raiders (3/1) – 3.26 searches per week
- Jets vs. Ravens (3/1) – 3.21 searches per week
- Jaguars vs. Bears (3/1) – 2.90 searches per week
- Chargers vs. Rams (3/1) – 2.64 searches per week
- 49ers vs. Vikings (2/1) – 2.19 searches per week
- Vikings vs. Packers (3/1) – 1.84 searches per week
- Bears vs. Colts (3/1) – 1.61 searches per week
- Buccaneers vs. Patriots (3/1) – 1.41 searches per week
The season is now less than a week away, and with it, the exciting betting opportunities that the NFL offers.