Before the National Football League and American Football League officially merged in 1970, creating the modern NFL, pro football was primarily a Sunday afternoon thing. Although the NFL has also hosted a limited number of late-season Saturday afternoon games.
League brass had been flirting with the idea of a weekly prime-time game and inked a deal with ABC to launch almost a full season of Monday Night Football games in 1970. Part football and part entertainment the Monday Night Football concept has endured, airing on ABC from 1970 to 2005 before ESPN took over. ESPN Monday Night Football games are still some of the league’s most-watched.
However, the NFL still held the majority of its games on Sunday afternoons from the 1970s through the early 2000s and it still does to this day.
ESPN did air a single prime time Sunday game each week from 1987 to 2005 when it took over the broadcast rights to Monday Night Football. NBC Sunday Night Football took over the broadcast rights to the Sunday night game after that.
Plus, the NFL Network started airing a package of games that included Thursday prime time games in 2006. Thursday Night Football, outside of Thanksgiving Day games and the season kickoff, became a part of the weekly NFL schedule in 2012.
The NFL still owns Sundays
Add it up, and while the NFL still owns Sundays, it has also become a sport that plays on three and sometimes four days a week.
All that NFL action spread throughout the week creates several unique betting opportunities and is at least one of the reasons why Americans bet on the NFL more than anything else.
Read on to see how you can take advantage of NFL betting opportunities on more than just Sunday afternoons, how weekday and primetime games have impacted NFL betting, and why you now need to consider scheduling when making your own weekly NFL picks.
Betting on Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football began airing weekly on ABC in 1970, and it has become an NFL institution over the past 50 years. The games now air on ESPN.
Monday Night Football games present a unique betting opportunity because playing on Mondays usually means teams have an extra day to rest and recover from injury.
With the advent of the internet, NFL lines are often released well ahead of even the previous week’s games. Then, the lines are adjusted almost immediately after each team plays. Then, throughout the week, injury reports and any news impacting the game adjust the odds. Additionally, betting action on the game moves the line.
There is no difference with Monday Night Football lines. Although, the prime-time scheduling of the game means all eyes are on it and there may be more props and other betting lines available for Monday Night Football games than most others.
Since the launch of online sports betting in Michigan in 2021, you’ll find more Monday Night Football betting specials or Monday Night Football odds boosts available at MI online and mobile sportsbooks for the 2021-22 NFL season.
Monday Night Football stats
The history of MNF stretches back to 1970. While overall team records in this time slot make for solid talking points, it’s important to take them in context. For example, dominant teams from the 1970s and 1980s may have racked up a lot more appearances than their opponents, as well as more impressive overall records.
Instead of going back over 50 years, the last decade or so of results works just fine for research purposes. If we go back to 2010 forward to the most recently completed season, here are some of the more notable facts and figures.
- Most appearances: 19 – Chicago Bears, 12-7
- Most wins: 12 – Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints.
- Most losses: 13 – Washington Football Team.
- Best winning percentage: .846 – Seattle Seahawks, 11-2
- Worst Winning percentage: .133 – Washington Football Team, 2-13
In terms of overall prowess on MNF, just four clubs have a winning percentage greater than .700 over this time frame:
- Seattle Seahawks (.846, 11-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (.786, 11-3)
- San Francisco 49ers (.733, 11-4)
- Tennessee Titans (.714, 5-2)
At the opposite end of the spectrum, four teams have a winning percentage of less than .300 on Monday Night Football since 2010:
- Los Angeles Chargers (.286, 4-10)
- Cleveland Browns (.250, 1-3)
- Miami Dolphins (.200, 2-8)
- Washington Football Team (.133, 2-13)
2021 Monday Night Football schedule
The 2021-22 NFL season is Monday Night Football’s 52nd. ESPN plans to broadcast 17 games on Monday nights throughout the season, starting with two games in Week 1. Here’s the complete 2021 Monday Night Football schedule (all games start at 8:15 pm ET)
- Sept. 13: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders
- Sept. 20: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Sept. 27: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
- Oct. 4: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
- Oct. 11: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
- Oct. 18: Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans
- Oct. 25: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
- Nov. 1: New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs
- Nov. 8: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Nov. 15: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
- Nov. 22: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Nov. 29: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team
- Dec. 6: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
- Dec. 13: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
- Dec. 20: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
- Dec. 27: Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints
- Jan. 3: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Betting on Sunday Night Football
Sunday Night Football began airing weekly on ESPN in 1987 and moved over to NBC in 2006. NBC Sunday Night Football is now one of the most-watched NFL games every week. The league’s flexible-scheduling system allows NBC to choose a different game for the final seven weeks of the season if one game is more intriguing or includes more playoff implications than the originally scheduled game.
These days, NFL lines get released even before the previous week’s games. Sportsbooks will adjust the lines after each team plays and when injury reports and news regarding the game are released throughout the week. Of course, the betting action on either side of the line will move the line as well. This process remains the same for all NFL games, including SNF games.
NBC Sunday Night Football is now considered the feature game of the week in the NFL, which means you may find more props and other betting lines available for SNF games than many others.
Michigan sportsbooks are also likely to offer more betting specials and odds boosts available surrounding SNF games.
Sunday Night Football stats
Since NBC took over SNF in 2006, this has evolved into the primo broadcasting window on the weekly NFL schedule. If it’s Sunday Night, we can rest assured that we’re being treated to a marquee matchup.
Looking back in time, a handful of clubs have a number of SNF appearances under their belts since ‘06, while others have just a few. On the performance front, some squads have been ready for primetime, while others have left lots to be desired.
Let’s take a look at some of the notable facts and figures from the modern era of SNF.
- Most appearances: 47 – Dallas Cowboys, 23-24
- Most wins: 23 – Dallas Cowboys
- Most losses: 24 – Dallas Cowboys
- Best winning percentage: .761 – New Orleans Saints, 16-5
- Worst Winning percentage: .000 – Miami Dolphins, 0-3
Alright, so the club known as America’s Team is clearly in this time slot quite often. Who else appears frequently on SNF? Just four other clubs have 30 or more appearances under their belts since 2006. Here’s the list along with their record on Sunday night.
- Philadelphia Eagles: 17-18 over 35 appearances
- New England Patriots: 22-14 over 36 appearances
- Green Bay Packers: 19-17 over 36 appearances
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 18-14 over 32 appearances
2021 Sunday Night Football schedule
Remember, the 2021 NBC Sunday Night Football schedule can change with the league’s flexible-scheduling system allowing NBC to choose a different game for Weeks 5-17. In the meantime, here’s what it looks like (all games start at 8:20 pm ET.)
- Sept. 12: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
- Sept. 19: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
- Sept. 26: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
- Oct. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
- Oct. 10: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
- Oct. 17: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Oct. 24: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
- Oct. 31: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
- Nov. 7: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams
- Nov. 14: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
- Nov. 21: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers
- Nov. 28: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
- Dec. 5: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
- Dec. 12: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
- Dec. 19: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Dec. 26: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
- Jan. 2: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
- Jan. 9: To be determined
Betting on Thursday Night Football
Thursday Night Football began airing on the NFL Network in 2006 as a part of its Run to the Playoffs package, including late-season Thursday and Saturday night games.
Thursday Night Football games have aired weekly beginning with Week 2 of the NFL season since 2012. The Week 1 NFL Kickoff Game on Thursdays and the prime time NFL on Thanksgiving Thursday games are broadcast as a part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football contract with the league.
Thursday Night Football presents some truly unique betting opportunities because teams are forced to play after a short week of practice. Injuries can have a bigger effect on Thursday games.
NFL lines are first released before the previous week’s games, and Michigan sportsbooks will adjust these lines after the team’s play and throughout the days before the Thursday Night Football games as injury reports and various news comes out.
Thursday Night Football games are considered among the most unpredictable in the league. This is because of the short week.
The primetime schedule and the fact Thursday Night Football is the only NFL game on that day may allow Michigan sportsbooks to offer more odds boosts than the average Sunday afternoon NFL game.
Thursday Night Football stats
Since TNF became a regular thing in 2006, NFL bettors have become accustomed to considering the impacts of the short week on players and teams. Among the items that are worth taking the time to dig into are player injury reports and travel schedules both before and after the contest.
As with the other primetime games, some clubs are regular participants on TNF, while others have made just a smattering of appearances. Here are some of the key points of data on Thursday Night Football since 2006.
- Most appearances: 16 – San Francisco 49ers, 9-7
- Most wins: 10 – Baltimore Ravens
- Most losses: 10 – Carolina Panthers and New York Jets
- Best winning percentage: .800 – Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots
- Worst Winning percentage: .250 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coaching and overall franchise strength has also been a great indicator of success on TNF. Here’s a look at all of the clubs with a winning percentage of greater than .700 in this time slot since ‘06.
- Seattle Seahawks, 8-2, .800
- New England Patriots, 8-2, .800
- Green Bay Packers, 7-2, .777
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-3, .750
- Kansas City Chiefs, 8-3, .727
- Atlanta Falcons, 8-3, .727
- Baltimore Ravens, 10-4, .714
2021 Thursday Night Football schedule
Here’s a look at the Thursday Night Football schedule for the upcoming 2021-22 NFL Season. All games start at 8:20 pm ET and simulcast on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Video unless otherwise noted.
- Sept. 9 (NBC): Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Sept. 16 (NFL Network): New York Giants at Washington Football Team
- Sept. 23 (NFL Network): Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
- Sept. 30: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
- Oct. 7: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
- Oct. 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles
- Oct. 21: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns
- Oct 28: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
- Nov. 4: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
- Nov. 11: Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
- Nov. 18: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons
- Nov. 25 (NBC): Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
- Dec. 2: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
- Dec. 9: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
- Dec. 16: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
- Dec. 23 (NFL Network): San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
- There are no Week 17 or Week 18 Thursday night games.
The 2021 NFL schedule includes two possible Saturday triple-headers with the option to reduce these to double-headers if there aren’t enough big games.
The multi-game Saturdays are scheduled for Weeks 15 and 18 with a plan to flex in the best possible games. Two games will be played on each of Saturday. Week 15 game times are TBD, while Week 18 games will start at 4:30 pm ET and 8:15 pm ET. All games will air on the NFL Network, except one streaming exclusively on Amazon and over-the-air TV in each team’s markets.
The NFL says it will pick the games at least four weeks ahead of time, which would mean sometime in mid-November.
This is the 50th time in 51 years the NFL has held at least one Saturday game. The league traditionally schedules Saturday games once the college football regular season is over.
The entire NFL schedule is moved to Saturday when Christmas lands on a Sunday.
NFL Saturday betting
Teams playing on Saturday will likely have to do so with one less day of practice than usual. A short week usually means less time to recover from injuries and more difficulty in implementing intricate offensive game plans. However, the loss of a single day of practice will not have the same impact as the loss of several days teams must endure playing Thursday games.
Betting on these Saturday games will require you to pay a little more attention to injury reports during the week. Michigan sportsbooks may also run Saturday NFL betting specials including odds boosts, props, and single-day parlays for these games, giving you more betting options.
Lines should be released ahead of the previous week’s action and adjusted after the previous week’s games and following any injury reports or news.
Despite the expansion into prime time on Monday and Thursday, the NFL still owns Sundays, hosting up to 13 Sunday games every week throughout the regular season.
There’s so much to bet on throughout the average NFL Sunday, it remains the best day of the week to bet football.
Since one of the games is held on Sunday night each week gives you the chance to bet parlays with the Sunday Night Football game as the final leg. This can mean a chance to hedge your bet, which is betting the other side of the final leg of a winning parlay to guarantee yourself a profit.
Single-day Sunday NFL multi-game parlays can offer some of the largest payouts you’ll find at Michigan sportsbooks, but they are difficult to win.
Night games vs. day games
A scientific study from 2018 claims most NFL teams perform better during prime-time games.
The study suggested players are less likely to get injured, turn the ball over, and make mental errors in night games as opposed to afternoon games because they are more alert at night.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine claimed the difference was because higher body clock or circadian-regulated alertness.
While the results of the study won’t exactly tell who to bet on in the Sept. 12, 2021, NBC Sunday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams, it suggests both teams will be at their best under the Sunday night lights. It is up to you to decide if a peak Chicago Bears team will be better than a peak Los Angeles Rams.
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You can take advantage of scheduling to help you predict the outcome of NFL games and bet accordingly to find success.
Do your homework
The key is to perform a good amount of research ahead of time and look for obvious edges.
Get down early
Watch the previous week’s games for the teams on a short week playing on Thursday Night Football. Those games will give you a good idea of what kind of shape a team will be in with just a few days of practice and rest heading into Thursday’s game.
Watch these games and use what you see to book bets on the early lines before oddsmakers have had the chance to react to injury reports and other news.