Not every sharp bettor is going to be on the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. Those who prefer the New England Patriots for their NFL picks are getting their money in early, before the public goes crazy.
Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-3 ATS, 3-2-1 Totals
Who’s going to win Super Bowl XLIX? Beats us. We’re not soothsayers here – none of us can see into the future. Betting on football is about probability and arbitrage and other sleep-inducing words. It’s not magic.
Besides, we’ve got what looks like a fairly even matchup on paper for this Sunday’s Big Game (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC). The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are still widely pegged as a pick ‘em as we go to press, although the defending champions are available as high as +2 (–115) if you shop around like a proper handicapper. You could make either side your football pick for Super Bowl XLIX. The trick is to get the best price at the right time. So how do the sharps do it?
Always Never Quite Right
In case you’re new to making NFL picks, or you just need a refresher, here’s the basic dynamic: There are people in the betting market who are good at what they do. We call them sharps. And there are people who don’t really know what they’re doing when they make their football picks. We call them squares, although it’s important not to be a jerk when using that term. Never look down your nose at casual bettors. They’re the lifeblood of this business.
Square bettors are fairly predictable in the way they bet. They tend to follow popular teams with flashy offenses and big-name quarterbacks. They also tend to rely on conventional (i.e. dumb) media for analysis – if they put any thought into it at all. Many casual bettors just bet on the teams they love, period. In the case of Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots are the public team by a country mile. Deflategate notwithstanding.
Casual fans also tend to place their bets on the weekend of the game in question, after work is over on Friday. We recently questioned how solid this dynamic is, but the traditional square betting pattern is still visible when you examine market activity – which you can do by looking at our consensus reports. Knowing this pattern in advance gives you the opportunity to time your bets appropriately, thus getting the best price available.
Think I’ll Buy Me a Football Team
Let’s say you’ve decided the Patriots are your football pick for Super Bowl XLIX. Knowing that the squares are likely to dump a boatload of cash on New England as kick-off approaches, your best strategy is to bet on the Pats as early as possible, before all that public money forces the books to move their NFL odds and make your team a bigger favorite than it already is.
Indeed, we saw plenty of early action on the Patriots – some of it from square bettors, no doubt, but our expanded consensus reports at press time show 18 $1000+ bets on New England, compared to five big bets on Seattle. Big bets tend to be sharp bets; casual fans are more likely to bet $50 here and $100 there, although that dynamic is also under pressure from the general rise in disposable income.
If the Seahawks happen to be your preferred Super Bowl pick, as they are here at the home office, you might want to hold off on placing your bet until just before kick-off, hoping that all those casual bettors will pound the Patriots and cause the books to make Seattle a bigger underdog. This is where reading the consensus reports can get a little tricky. We normally think of early action as sharp action, and despite all those big bets on New England, the Seahawks are pulling in 61 percent of the monies wagered as we go to press. Expect that percentage to go down this weekend, even as the number of big bets on Seattle escalates.