Each week, our “What’s on Tap” series previews the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review, “Get a Grip,” for a look back at last week’s notable news.
Tuesday, Jan. 2
Michigan opens as early favorite over UDub
The University of Michigan pulled off a thrilling goal line stand in Monday’s CFP national semifinals to defeat Alabama in overtime. J.J. McCarthy led the Wolverines to a fourth-quarter comeback that reminded Michigan fans of a rally orchestrated by Tom Brady over the Crimson Tide in the 2000 Orange Bowl. With the victory, coach Jim Harbaugh advanced to the national title game after his team suffered defeats in the semifinals in each of the last two years.
Washington also won in dramatic fashion Monday night with a clutch defensive play in the red zone. The Huskies defeated Texas 37-31 when the Longhorns failed to convert on a 4th down pass with one second left. Washington running back Dillon Johnson reaggravated a leg injury on the Huskies’ final drive, and his status for the national title game is uncertain.
Michigan opened as a 4.5-point favorite at FanDuel. Michigan running back Blake Corum rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore when the teams last met in 2021.
Last time Blake Corum and Michigan played against Washington 🔥
— JD 〽️ (@MGoJDBlue) January 2, 2024
Wednesday, Jan. 3
Pistons look for first win of 2024
On Saturday, the Pistons edged the Raptors to end a 28-game losing skid, the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. On Monday, Detroit opened 2024 with a 23-point loss to the Rockets. The Pistons face the Jazz on Wednesday in the second game of a four-game road trip.
At 3-30, the Pistons are still on pace for the worst record of any team in the history of the league. During the 2011-12 NBA campaign, a season truncated by a labor dispute, the Charlotte Bobcats finished 7-59. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers went 9-73, while the 2015-16 Sixers finished one game better at 10-72.
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Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings, anticipates a similar record for the Pistons. Avello has set the Pistons’ updated season total for wins at a paltry 9.5, although it’s now heavily juiced to the over.
Thursday, Jan. 4
NCLGS 2024 Winter Meeting
A host of state legislators will converge in Fort Lauderdale this week for one of the nation’s most prominent gambling conferences. The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States will kick off its annual winter meeting on Thursday with panels on daily fantasy sports (DFS), illegal gambling, and other pertinent issues. The conference will also address artificial intelligence, cloud services in gambling, and federalism.
Given the location, the Seminole Tribe’s relaunch of mobile sports betting in Florida via the Hard Rock Bet app will likely serve as one of the hottest topics of the conference.
North Carolina Lottery meeting
Last week, ahead of the state’s Dec. 27 deadline, seven mobile sportsbook operators submitted applications for licensure to launch North Carolina betting apps. The applicants represented a who’s who of industry heavyweights, plus one wild card in Underdog.
Gov. Roy Cooper has indicated his preference for launching mobile sports betting ahead of March Madness. Industry stakeholders may receive an update on the timing of the proposed launch at Thursday’s lottery commission meeting.
Saturday, Jan. 6
Key AFC South showdown in Indy
Entering the final week of the regular season, there is a three-way tie for first in the AFC South, with the Colts, Texans, and Jaguars all at 9-7. The Jags can clinch the division title with a win over Tennessee on Sunday. Meanwhile, the winner of Saturday’s Colts-Texans game is assured of a playoff berth. The Colts are 1-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook; the total is 47.
On Saturday afternoon, Pittsburgh will face archrival Baltimore needing a win to remain in playoff contention. Having secured home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, the Ravens may rest their top players in the regular-season finale. The Steelers are 3.5-point favorites at bet365; the total is 38.
Funfact of the day: There is a scenario that creates a deja-vu for the Steelers:
If the Steelers and Jaguars lose & the Broncos win, the Steelers would be the #7 seed unless the Texans and Colts tie.
(The difference is that Colts – Texans is Saturday Night this time)
— Timo Riske (@PFF_Moo) January 2, 2024
Sunday, Jan. 7
AFC East title on the line in Miami
The Dolphins could have clinched the AFC East with a Week 17 win over the Ravens. Instead, Miami suffered a demoralizing 56-19 defeat in Baltimore, a loss that dropped the Dolphins to 11-5 on the season. As a result, the Dolphins can fall all the way to the No. 6 seed in the AFC with a loss to the Bills on Sunday Night Football.
Lamar Jackson completed 18 of 21 passes for 321 yards, 5 touchdowns, and a +28.2 passing EPA against the Dolphins in Week 17.
Jackson’s +28.2 passing EPA is the most by a QB in a game since Joe Burrow’s +34.1 EPA against the Ravens in Week 16, 2021.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 31, 2023
The surging Bills would receive the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a victory over the Dolphins on Sunday. But the Bills, despite riding a four-game winning streak, can still miss the postseason with a loss to the Dolphins, coupled with wins by the Jaguars and Steelers. The Bills are 3-point favorites at ESPN BET; the total is 49.5 points.
Other games with playoff implications in Week 18:
- Despite a 10-point loss to the Saints in Week 17, the Bucs can still win the NFC South. The Bucs would win the division with a victory over the Panthers on Sunday. If the Bucs falter, the Saints would capture the South with a victory over the Falcons. The Bucs are 5.5-point favorites at BetRivers, while the Saints are favored by 3.5 over Atlanta.
- For the second year in a row, the Packers are playing for a wild card spot in Week 18, having a chance to clinch one with a win Sunday over Chicago. Last season, the Seahawks took the No. 7 spot in the NFC after the Lions defeated the Packers in the final game of the regular season. This year, the Seahawks need to defeat the Cardinals and receive help from the Bears to make the postseason. The Packers are 3-point favorites over the Bears at PointsBet, while the Seahawks are favored by three over the Cardinals.
- The Cowboys would win the NFC East and clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference with a win on Sunday over the Commanders. If the Cowboys win the division, the Eagles would open the playoffs on the road against the NFC South champion. The Cowboys opened as massive 13-point favorites over the Commanders.