It’s hard to find an NFL fan base more wary of getting its hopes up than Detroit Lions supporters, but if there’s any time to consider allowing a shred of optimism into one’s heart, it’s now.
Sunday, the 1-3 Lions will return from a bye week to head to Florida and face the 1-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. The game marks the beginning of a seven-game stretch in which the Lions will face four teams that currently have one win, as well as the winless Atlanta Falcons. This string of futility deathmatches could catapult the Lions into fringe playoff contention or doom Detroit to a probable coaching change and talk of a franchise rebuild, and it starts Sunday in Jacksonville.
For sports gambling aficionados in the Wolverine State, the long-awaited launch of regulated online wagering is still a month or two away, but the number of brick-and-mortar casinos opening retail sportsbooks has grown steadily since the state’s first legal sports bets were placed in March, right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, gamblers can choose between sportsbooks at any of the three commercial casinos in Detroit or at several tribal casinos located throughout Michigan. Here’s a look at the odds and angles for betting on Lions-Jaguars this Sunday.
History favors Lions against the spread
Nearly all of the sportsbooks currently operating in Michigan currently make the Lions -3.5 favorites over the Jags, but BetMGM, the sports betting arm of MGM Grand Detroit, offers the line with the best discount on the vig at -105. The same bet won’t cost much more in western Michigan, where the BetRivers line, with a -107 vig, is available through Rush Street Interactive’s partnership with the Little River Casino in Manistee. Near Traverse City in northern Michigan, William Hill, which has partnered with the Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands casinos, offers a lower -3 line for the Lions with a pricier -120 vig.
The total points over/under for Lions-Jaguars ranges from 54 to 54.5 at various Michigan sportsbooks, and moneyline bets range from -175 to -190 for the Lions to win and +150 to +160 for the Jags to spring an upset. FanDuel, which partnered with the MotorCity Casino in Detroit, offers the most generous +160 moneyline odds on Jacksonville.
The recent history of NFL road favorites coming off of a bye week favors Detroit to cover against Jacksonville on Sunday. As NFL betting editor Chris Raybon noted, teams in the Lions’ position have a record of 62-28-2 against the spread over the last 17 years.
The Lions also have played a more difficult schedule than the Jaguars have so far, with the Lions’ opponents boasting a combined record of 14-5 compared to Jacksonville’s opponents’ combined record of 11-9-1. The Jags have already been in the familiar position of serving as patsies for another low-performing team’s first win twice this season, granting the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans their lone wins. A healthy, refreshed Detroit side — despite Adrian Peterson missing Thursday’s practice with a non-COVID illness — could nab their second W against Jacksonville.
In the world of NFL fandom, few sentiments are stronger than Detroit Lions optimism. But against this Jaguars team, the Lions appear to offer some value as a sports betting pick. For those among us who still can’t bring ourselves to wager hard-earned dollars on a Lions win or cover, you might as well search for prop bets on Detroit head coach Matt Patricia losing his job after Week 6, because a defeat to the Jaguars would be devastating.
Lions to lose plus Patricia to get axed? Now that sounds like a Detroit parlay.