#Betting101: Contrarian Bets FTW

Jason Lake

Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:25 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 21, 2017 8:25 PM UTC

Making football picks is a lot easier when you let the betting public do most of the work. Here are some potential bargains to consider on the Week 3 NFL schedule.

We’re two weeks into the NFL regular season. As you may have noticed, there’s some really bad football going on out there. Nine teams are winless heading into Week 3, and surprise surprise, not a lot of people want to bet on these unfortunate souls. Won’t you open up your heart – and your wallet/purse – and give one of these poor clubs a home?

It could be highly profitable. We’re deep enough into the week, and the NFL odds have moved enough to give us some contrarian picks worth considering. Let’s start by looking at our expanded consensus reports to see which teams have drawn the least support from the betting public thus far. Under 30 percent of wagers placed would be nice. Here’s our lineup:

Buffalo (+3 vs. Denver): 31.90 percent
L.A. Chargers (+3 vs Kansas City): 35.46 percent
Washington (+3 vs. Oakland): 34.87 percent
Arizona (+3 vs. Dallas): 37.83 percent

I see a pattern here. We’ve got four home dogs sitting on that magic number 3. Only one of these teams is 0-2 at this point; that would be the Chargers. They haven’t covered the spread yet either at 0-1-1 ATS. But are they really so bad? Football Outsiders has them ranked No. 13 overall in efficiency after two weeks. Both their losses were very close, too. This could be the contrarian NFL pick we’re looking for.

 How to Be a Thousandaire

Tiny soccer stadium aside, the Chargers have a few things going for them this Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). Apparently math isn’t one of them; FiveThirtyEight likes undefeated Kansas City to win 74 percent of the time, or –7 for an Elo-based spread. Compare and contrast to the FPI numbers at ESPN, which have the Chiefs at 56.5 percent. That’s more like Kansas City –2. Interesting.

The sharps don’t seem to mind a little cognitive dissonance. Our expanded report shows just 41 percent of the amount wagered landing on the Chargers for an average bet of $41 to Kansas City’s $33. But we also have three $1000+ bets on Los Angeles, and zero on the Chiefs. Big money is sharp money, right?

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Spencer Pulley (knee) and Jason Verrett (knee) did not practice today. Joe Barksdale (foot) and Mike Williams (back) were limited.

— Ricky Henne (@ChargersRHenne) September 20, 2017

Depends when the money came in. If it was after the Chargers put back-up RT Chris Hairston (blood clots) on injured reserve Wednesday, maybe not so much. Hairston moved up to the first string last week against the Miami Dolphins after RT Joe Barksdale left the game with an injured left foot. What’s this? The Chargers are having injury problems on the offensive line? Shocked, shocked I am.

Let’s stay away from these home dogs and consider the Cardinals instead, shall we? They’re 55 percent to beat Dallas on Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), according to FiveThirtyEight, while the FPI numbers have this game as a coin flip. Arizona should have LG Mike Iupati and TE Jermaine Gresham back this week, and the Cowboys offensive line isn’t the run-blocking menace it was in 2016, as RB Ezekiel Elliott (3.4 yards per carry) can attest. Shop smart, my friends.

Free NFL Pick: Arizona +3.5 (–115)
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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