NFL Picks: Public to Overbet Colts Enough to Make Texans Tasty?

Jason Lake

Monday, December 8, 2014 2:12 PM GMT

The early action is on the Indianapolis Colts for their Sunday matinee against the Houston Texans. Expect the public to move the NFL odds even further this weekend. All we need is just a little patience.

Jason’s record after Week 13: 34-46-1 ATS, 17-20-1 Totals
 

You have to wake up pretty early to get the worm these days. It’s a competitive NFL betting marketplace out there; every scrap of information you can gather represents money in your pocket. That’s why we publish our consensus reports. You can use these to make smarter football picks.

But there is one “feature” with these reports that you should know about. When the first football odds get published the week before Sunday’s games, and our first betting survey results come in, we sometimes publish consensus figures that end up getting overwritten once we have access to more solid data. This makes it worth your while to keep a vigilant eye on our NFL odds board every Sunday. You do have multiple screens at your workstation, yes? If not, consider it a holiday gift idea.
 

Good Luck Chuck
Here’s what we’re talking about: After the Indianapolis Colts opened as 6.5-point favorites for their Week 15 matchup with the Houston Texans, our very first consensus reports showed Indianapolis pulling in bettors at about a 2:1 ratio. But that was quickly replaced by new reports with the Colts at 88 percent consensus – and again at 84 percent as we go to press. Eventually, enough data will come in to give us a proper “opening” consensus report that we can stick with.

We can still use this very early data to get a picture of what the betting market looks like. And it looks very much like the Colts are gaining steam. Sharp bettors might not have been too impressed with Indy’s 25-24 win over the Cleveland Browns (+3 at home), but they definitely want to get the Colts now at –6.5 for next Sunday’s game (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS), before the betting public jumps in and moves the football odds to –7 or higher.

It’s almost certainly going to happen. The Colts (9-4 SU and ATS) are the top team on the public money charts as we go to press, piloted by one of the league’s rising young superstars in QB Andrew Luck (103.0 passer rating). He’s in the mix for MVP honors, and if you close your eyes, you can almost imagine that Peyton Manning never left Indianapolis. Don’t dismiss the value of head coach Chuck Pagano to the Colts brand, either.
 

I, Brandbot
Of course, when we say “the sharps” are pounding the Colts, we don’t mean all of them are. There’s a very good argument to make for betting on the Texans (7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS). They’ve won back-to-back games SU and ATS since re-inserting Ryan Fitzpatrick (96.4 passer rating) in the starting lineup. Those wins have put Houston right back in the mix for an AFC Wild Card berth.

Furthermore, the Texans are playing in a “small market” with limited media exposure beyond defensive end/professional pitchman J.J. Watt. They’re No. 18 on the public money charts as we go to press, hiding behind a trio of regional teams in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Atlanta. That just reinforces the idea that the Colts will be bringing in most of the public money after the foreman pulls the whistle on Friday.

Which is why it pays to be patient – if you like Houston, that is. Once the public comes in and pours all of that money on the Colts, online sportsbooks will adjust and make the Texans 7-point favorites, or maybe even +7.5. Each of those half-points can add money to your bankroll. Conversely, if you like the Colts, you’d better get them now before they hit that magic number seven. Roughly one NFL game in 12 will end with a margin of victory of exactly seven points. What if it’s Sunday’s game?