People sure love the Green Bay Packers. They're getting tons of love on the NFL odds board, but that just makes the Jacksonville Jaguars an even tastier pick for Week 1.
Finally, it's time to take off the training wheels. The NFL preseason is over, thankfully, and the betting public is already heating up the marketplace for Week 1 of the regular season. Without recreational bettors making their NFL picks, where would our profit margin come from? The sharps? I don't think so.
A quick reminder in case you're new here: Contrarian betting is where the gold is at. We're not in the business of predicting winners here at the home office – that would be fool's gold. Profit comes from casual fans making bets based on emotion instead of reason. Those wagers move the NFL odds and give us the opportunity to bet the other side at a bargain price.
And who does the public prefer in Week 1? The Green Bay Packers, surprise surprise. Our expanded consensus reports at press time show 64 percent of bettors taking Green Bay for next Sunday's season opener (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Packers were 4-point road faves, now they're –4.5. They should be even bigger favorites by kick-off.
I'm A Quarterback, I'm Popular
The betting lines for Week 1 have been on the board since April, so we have to tread even more carefully than usual when we read the consensus reports. Generally speaking, sharps place their bets earlier than casual fans, who tend to show up on the weekend of the game in question – and the Packers-Jaguars game isn't until September 11.
We can still get a good idea of where the betting public is at by looking at the numbers and using some “common” sense. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are obviously a very popular team, and they're expected to win; the NFL futures market has Green Bay joining the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks among the Top 3 contenders for Super Bowl LI. The futures market is loaded with recreational bettors, by the way. The Packers are the +600 favorites at Bovada; Jacksonville is +4000 at press time.
Information Wants to Be Free
As for the consensus numbers, Green Bay is pulling in 66 percent of the monies wagered on this game, but take a look at the average bet size: $53 on the Packers, $48 on the Jaguars. Not much difference there. Sharp bettors tend to make substantially bigger bets than these, so we can infer that neither Green Bay nor Jacksonville has drawn much attention from the wiseguys just yet.
Note that we haven't even gotten into the matchup itself and the Exes and Ohs. It's definitely a good idea to apply some football knowledge when you analyze a game, but we recommend doing that after you've sussed out the betting market. Look for evidence that either supports or refutes the contrarian pick: injuries, overvalued/undervalued players and positions, relevant betting trends, that kind of stuff. If you have access to some reliable projections and power rankings, all the better. We'll be doing this throughout the year, using all the best freely-available data on the interwebs that we can find. Until next time, consider the Jags as a potential value pick for Week 1, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Final 2016 Preseason Record: 5-6 ATS, 2-2 Totals