Thursday Night Football Betting: Everything You Need to Know

The 2022/2023 NFL season is underway, and that means Thursday Night Football action every week of the regular season. Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday Night Football betting.

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What to Know for Betting the First NFL Game Each Week

Once upon a time, Monday Night Football was a bittersweet experience for NFL fans.

As you sat down to watch one of the best games of the week, in the back of your mind was that nagging reminder – after this game, no more NFL until next Sunday. Five long days without professional football on TV made for a long wait.

Enter Thursday Night Football. The introduction of an ‘appetizer’ game on Thursday nights changed the landscape of NFL television. Suddenly, there was no five-day wait between the end of Monday Night Football and the start of the next week’s action. Now, each week’s NFL schedule begins three days earlier with a single game on Thursday evenings.

How did it start? Does the game see more wagering action than it would if it were played on Sunday? Here’s everything you wanted to know about Thursday Night Football betting.

The Start of Thursday Night Football: When Was the First Ever TNF?

On November 23, 2006, Thursday Night Football debuted as a now-annual third game on Thanksgiving Day (following the annual early game in Detroit and late game in Dallas). It was played at 8 p.m. between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.

First Ever Thursday Night Football

At the time, the brand-new NFL Network rolled the game into its “Run to the Playoffs” package, airing Thursday night games for the next four weeks of the 2006 NFL season. But what started as a gimmick for a growing cable channel would become big business for the NFL.

Thursday Night Football History

By 2012, Thursday Night Football was a season-long venture, starting in week 2 and wrapping up in the season’s next-to-last week – the NFL Kickoff Game in week one is not technically part of “Thursday Night Football”, and no games are scheduled for Thursday in the final week or the regular season.

Today, Thursday Night Football has earned a place in history as the first major NFL feature to be offered exclusively via a streaming platform. Starting with the 2022 season, Amazon Prime Video is the exclusive broadcaster until the 2033 season.

Because Prime Video is a subscription service, the NFL requires Amazon to broadcast games on conventional TV stations in the local market of the teams participating in each week’s games.

Thursday Night Football Announcers & Start Time

Famed broadcasters Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will handle the announcing duties on Thursday Night Football starting this season.

Each week’s game is scheduled to kick off at 8:15 p.m.

Thursday Night Football Announcers

How Does the NFL Decide Who Plays Thursday Night Football?

Officially, each team in the NFL plays at least one game per season on a Thursday. But with three games on Thanksgiving and 17 weeks of Thursday football, it’s impossible to have this work out perfectly.

With only 15 games included in the official Thursday Night Football package, it’s impossible to include each team. In 2022, there are three teams not included in the Thursday Night Football package – the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants. Each of these teams does play on Thanksgiving, however, thus fulfilling the Thursday game.

Four teams – the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee Titans – will play on multiple Thursdays in 2022. The Tennessee Titans are the only team to feature twice in the Thursday Night Football package.

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Since there is more of an emphasis on equity (each team playing once on a Thursday), specific matchups are not created the way they would typically be for a prime-time game. That said, recent years have seen an uptick in the quality of Thursday Night Football matchups as the game has become more of a weekly event and an attractive, standalone TV package.

How to Bet on Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football betting really isn’t too different than betting on any other NFL game. There’s no magic formula. In the early years of Thursday Night Football, bettors believed the games would be low-scoring due to the short turnaround between games, and favor home teams because of the travel concerns after a shorter recovery period.

As always with the NFL, however, these numbers evened out over time. There’s no built-in advantage to betting the over, or the home team, or any other situation in Thursday Night Football betting because oddsmakers take each game on its own merit.

That’s not to say there aren’t specific factors to consider with the Thursday game, however.

Factors to Consider for TNF Betting:

Rest

The NFL formula is built on parity, and as such the league wants to make things as even as possible. That’s why you’ll rarely see only one team coming off a bye on a Thursday game, or a team who played Monday Night Football forced to play three days later on Thursday.

But consider this: did one of the teams play overtime last week? Did one team win in a blowout, allowing them to rest their starters after halftime? In the NFL, every bit of extra rest helps as a season goes on, and this is especially true for Thursday Night Football.

What Happened Last? And What’s Next?

NFL players have physical abilities most of us can only imagine, but they’re only human. After a Sunday game, playing on Thursday night can feel like the football equivalent of working a double shift.  

Similarly, the ebb and flow of a season will put each team in specific situations.

Is one team coming off a tough game with a divisional rival? The Thursday Night game may catch them napping or in a letdown.

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Is their opponent heading into a bye week? Are they looking ahead to a rival next week?

Or is one team playing their second or third consecutive road game? Any of these factors might make a team more (or less) attractive as a potential wager.

Injuries

You should ALWAYS check the injury report before placing an NFL wager.

But it takes on added importance when betting Thursday Night Football. If the star defensive back pulled a hamstring or twisted an ankle on Sunday, his chances of being ready for a Thursday Night game are much worse than if the game was played on Sunday.

For that reason, teams often choose to sit banged-up players, figuring they can ‘steal’ an extra week of rest AFTER the Thursday night game.

And… Look Out for Promos!

In the end, the secret to Thursday Night Football betting is… there is no secret!

It’s still NFL football, played by the world’s best players. But it’s on national TV, where games can see up to four times more wagering than non-nationally televised games.

Thursday Night Football betting gives us one more opportunity to wager on the game and the sport we love. There are lots of promos too for Thursday Night Football – click here to take a look and claim one today.

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