NFL Picks: Who Will Public Bettors Blindly Back in Week 1?

Jason Lake

Monday, September 7, 2015 7:56 PM UTC

Monday, Sep. 7, 2015 7:56 PM UTC

It's time. The 2015 NFL regular season kicks off this Thursday, so let's get ready to make some sharp NFL picks by isolating which teams the public is likely to overbet.

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. The NFL is back for its 96th season, including those early years as the APFA, and despite all the challenges this sport faces, it remains the most popular thing on the planet. Literally billions of dollars will exchange hands this year as people make their weekly NFL picks. Our job here at the home office is to help you steer some of those dollars toward your own pockets, and away from the pockets of others.

In one sense, it's the easiest job in the world. You only need to get about 53 percent of your NFL picks right in order to make a profit, assuming you exercise proper bankroll management. An octopus will be correct 50 percent of the time in the long run; in order to squeeze out that extra three percent, or hopefully more, we're looking for situations where the betting public will make mistakes that the octopus wouldn't. Then we'll exploit those mistakes by doing the opposite. This is our bread and butter.

The Famous Five
Earlier this summer, we identified the five teams the public is most likely to overbet this year in general. These are the league's so-called glamour teams, the ones that people spend the most time talking about at the water cooler. Their conversations will be full of hot takes and very short on quality analysis, so when they bet blindly on their favorite teams and cause the NFL odds to shift, we can swoop in and bet on the other team instead.

In theory. Some public teams are better at beating the NFL odds than others – including many of the teams in our aforementioned quintet, which we'll revisit right now:

New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers

These are five highly successful franchises, each one featuring a top-shelf coach and a high-end quarterback. In fact, up to this point, betting against any of their current coaching regimes has been a losing proposition.

Where are Public Bettors Placing their Week 1 NFL Picks?

I'm Just a Bill
Not convinced yet? Good. Our approach to sports betting requires two main ingredients: One, the correct approach (contrarian betting and sound bankroll management), and two, data. None of this works without data. Thanks to the Internet, we've got ample amounts of free data and plenty of sharp analysis to go with it. Here are the records, regular season and playoffs, of the five coaches in question:

Bill Belichick, New England 233-118 SU, 184-143-8 ATS
Sean Payton, New Orleans 86-52 SU, 70-65-3 ATS
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis 27-15 SU, 24-16-2 ATS
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay 101-55-1 SU, 89-64-4 ATS
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh 87-50 SU, 68-67-2 ATS

Even with the added pressure put on by the betting public, all five of these coaches are above .500 ATS; however, Tomlin is well below the 52.4 percent you need to break even once you factor in the standard –110 vig. Then again, the Steelers are playing the Patriots in Week 1, so the public won't be pounding Pittsburgh for a change. Expect tons of money to come in on Tom Brady and the Pats instead, but don't be too quick to hop on the fade bandwagon this week. We'll find some better spots for you.

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