As the results of Week 2 of the NFL Preseason start to trickle in, we recap the games and analyse the NFL betting markets. Who were the big winners and losers and how did bettors do against bookies.
NFL Betting Recap Week 2 of the Preseason
One of the most fascinating aspects of football betting is public betting trends and ensuing market reactions and line movements. Gaging the public's response to NFL betting lines and how they bet favorites and underdogs from game to game is a speculative sport. Of course, we don't know the bettors individually and how experienced or wiseguy-ish each and every one of them is. Nor can we see into the mind of every single bettor and know instinctively why they are betting the way they are.
What we can do is analyse how markets react to public betting trends. Do the lines move in proportion to the betting trend percentages or do they go against betting trend percentages, which is an incidence known as reverse line movements and can be an indication of sharp money. Of course, neither the public nor sharps can always get it right. Nor, for that matter, bookies. But sportsbooks are in the habit of making money so how they balance action is revealing. And it's also useful to know how all these integral cogs –public and sharps – play against each other in NFL betting markets.
So with that preamble in mind, we run down the NFL betting action in the second week of the preseason. Take a close look at consensus betting polls and line movements for each and every game, and serve up our final verdict and discerning thoughts.
NFL Thursday, August 18
Philadelphia Eagles 17 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 0
Heinz Field, 7 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Closing Line: Steelers -2.5, Over/Under 38
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Eagles 62.7%
Closing Consensus ATS:Steelers 51.31%
Wow, this game wasn't even close! Talk about getting it wrong in every sense, from the NFL betting lines that opened and gave the considerable edge to the Steelers to the pendulum swing of late money putting up the Steelers as the consensus bet. Intriguingly, the late money showed some sign of so-called sharp betting with large bets coming down the wire that pushed the Steelers share of spread bets over the 50% mark and represented 63.53% of the money according to SBR consensus betting polls. That's also indicated by the reverse line movement with the Steelers dropping from -3.5 to -2.5, despite taking in the larger share of bets and money coming down the wire.
All in all, early money was bang on. Consider they represented just 36.4% of the amount wagered on this game, bookies did well too.
Cincinnati Bengals 30 vs. Detroit Lions 14
Ford Field, 7:30 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Midweek Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Lions -1.5, Over/Under 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Lions 59.5%
Closing Consensus ATS:Bengals 58.09 %
Another game that wasn't even close as the NFL odds indicated. Bengals trounced the Lions 30-14 to take the win and cover as the +1.5 road underdogs. As you can see, early money was heavy on the Lions – 59.2% of spread bets went towards the Lions in the first few days. Late money, however, tipped the scale towards the Bengals. Almost 60% of spread bets taken, comprising of 53.94% of the money risked. All in all, it was a good result for the public.
Chicago Bears 22 vs. New England Patriots 23
Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Closing Line: Patriots -3, Over/Under 41.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Patriots 54.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Patriots 51.3%
This result ended up being much closer than the market expected, but it's worth pointing out that it wasn't until late in the game that the Bears closed the gap on the scoreboard by scoring a touchdown with 9 seconds left on the clock and, then, pulling off the successful two-point conversion. Intriguingly, consensus betting polls on this game were split down the middle in terms of spread bets recorded – before kickoff Patriots had 51.3% of the spread bets but – and this is the interesting titbit – that percentage represented 77.30% of the money bet on this game. Conspicuously, larger sums of money were bet on the Patriots – an indication of sharp money/syndicate betting – underscored by the reverse line movement as the Patriots whittled down from -4 to -3 on the NFL odds board. Tale told the books cleaned up nicely on this one as the Bears bounced back and covered.
Atlanta Falcons 24 vs Cleveland Browns 13
FirstEnergy Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Midweek Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Closing Line: Browns -1.5, Over/Under 38.5
Early Consensus Betting: Browns 51.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Browns 59.1%
The public got this one hopelessly wrong, didn't they? By closing doors, almost 60% of spread bets were hanging on the Browns to cover as the 1.5 home favorites. Not least that percentage was equalled by the amount of money staked on this game. It wasn't even close when all was said and done as the Falcons edged the Browns 24-13. Bookies did modestly well with this game as those that backed the Falcons to cover were represented by 44.87% of spread bets and 46.99% of money wagered.
Oakland Raiders 12 vs Green Bay Packers 20
Lambeau Field, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Midweek Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Closing Line: Packers-2.5, Over/Under 42.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Packers 68%
Closing Consensus ATS: Raiders 51.64%
The difference between early and late money in this game is significant. Early bettors were all over the Packers – at the time this was one of the most bet games at early doors and the Packers were the most bet home favorite. Late money, though, bought into the Raiders so much so that at closing doors the Raiders represented 51.64% of spread bets on this game. The best bit of news for sportsbooks it marked 71.84% of the money bet on this game. Be it the public, wiseguys, sharp bettors or syndicates, they got it wrong. Bookies were big winners here.
Minnesota Vikings 18 vs Seattle Seahawks 11
CenturyLink Field, 10 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Midweek Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Closing Line: Seahawks -2.5, Over/Under 38.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Vikings 56.8%
Closing Consensus ATS: Vikings 55.6%
Those that watched this game on TV know just how easily it could have gone one way or the other. It was much closer towards the end than the final score suggested. The colour of money coming down the wire from open doors was conspicuously purple. The public was high on the Vikings evidently and by closing doors books recorded 55.5% of spread bets on Minnesota to cover. However, in spite of this conspicuous lean towards the Vikings, the NFL line moved against the Seahawks from -3 to -2.5 and, in some instances, they were backed down to as low as -1.5 or a PK, depending on your choice sportsbook.
This reverse line movement is an indication of late sharp money on the Seahawks – large bets coming down the wire just ahead of kickoff. Indeed, so much so that the 44.5% of spread bets recorded with the Seahawks actually represented almost 60% of the money risked on this game. You can imagine just how thrilled books were when Marcus Sherel lapped up the pick-six late in the game, simultaneously thwarting Seahawks second-half push (they'd only just knotted the game 11-11) and scored a touchdown to serve up the 18-11 Vikings win. In one fell swoop, Sherel probably saved books a lot of money.
NFL Friday, August 19
New York Jets vs. Washington Redskins - FedEx Field, 7:30 p.m. ET