As the results of Week 2 of the NFL Preseason start to trickle in, we recap the games and analyze the NFL betting markets. Who were the big winners and losers and how did bettors do against bookies.
NFL Betting Recap Week 2 of the Preseason
One of the most fascinating aspects of football betting is public betting trends and ensuing market reactions and line movements. Gaging the public’s response to NFL betting lines and how they bet favourites and underdogs from game to game is a speculative sport. Of course, we don’t know the bettors individually and how experienced or wiseguy-ish each and every one of them is. Nor can we can’t see into the mind of every single bettor and know instinctively why they are betting the way they are.
What we can do is analyse how markets react to public betting trends: do the lines move in proportion to the betting trend percentages or do they go against betting trend percentages, which is an incidence known as reverse line movements and can be an indication of sharp money. Of course, neither the public nor sharps can always get it right. Nor, for that matter, bookies. But online sportsbooks are in the habit of making money so how they balance action is revealing. And it’s also useful to know how all these integral cogs –public and sharps – play against each other in NFL betting markets.
So with that preamble in mind, we rundown the NFL betting action in the second week of the preseason. Take a close look at consensus betting polls and line movements for each and every game, and serve up our final verdict and discerning thoughts.
NFL Thursday, August 18
Philadelphia Eagles 17 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 0
Heinz Field, 7 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Steelers -3.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Closing Line: Steelers -2.5, Over/Under 38
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Eagles 62.7%
Closing Consensus ATS: Steelers 51.31%
Verdict: Wow, this game wasn’t even close! Talk about getting it wrong in every sense, from the NFL betting lines that opened and gave the considerable edge to the Steelers to the pendulum swing of late money putting up the Steelers as the consensus bet. Intriguingly, the late money showed some sign of so-called sharp betting with large bets coming down the wire that pushed the Steelers share of spread bets over the 50% mark and represented 63.53% of the money according to SBR consensus betting polls. That’s also indicated by the reverse line movement with the Steelers dropping from -3.5 to -2.5, despite taking in the larger share of bets and money coming down the wire.
All in all, early money was bang on. Consider they represented just 36.4% of the amount wagered on this game, bookies did well too.
Cincinnati Bengals 30 vs. Detroit Lions 14
Ford Field, 7:30 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Midweek Line: Lions -2.5, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Lions -1.5, Over/Under 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Lions 59.5%
Closing Consensus ATS: Bengals 58.09 %
Verdict: Another game that wasn’t even close as the NFL odds indicated. Bengals trounced the Lions 30-14 to take the win and cover as the +1.5 road underdogs. As you can see, early money was heavy on the Lions – 59.2% of spread bets went towards the Lions in the first few days. Late money, however, tipped the scale towards the Bengals. Almost 60% of spread bets taken, comprising of 53.94% of the money risked. All in all, it was a good result for the public.
Chicago Bears 22 vs. New England Patriots 23
Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Patriots -4, Over/Under Total 40.5
Closing Line: Patriots -3, Over/Under 41.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Patriots 54.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Patriots 51.3%
Verdict: This result ended up being much closer than the market expected, but it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t until late in the game that the Bears closed the gap on the scoreboard by scoring a touchdown with 9 seconds left on the clock and, then, pulling off the successful two-point conversion. Intriguingly, consensus betting polls on this game were split down the middle in terms of spread bets recorded – before kickoff Patriots had 51.3% of the spread bets but – and this is the interesting tidbit – that percentage represented 77.30% of the money bet on this game.
Conspicuously, larger sums of money were bet on the Patriots – an indication of sharp money/syndicate betting – underscored by the reverse line movement as the Patriots whittled down from -4 to -3 on the NFL odds board. Tale told the books cleaned up nicely on this one as the Bears bounced back and covered.
Atlanta Falcons 24 vs Cleveland Browns 13
FirstEnergy Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Midweek Line: Browns -2.5, Over/Under Total 37
Closing Line: Browns -1.5, Over/Under 38.5
Early Consensus Betting: Browns 51.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Browns 59.1%
Verdict: The public got this one hopelessly wrong, didn’t they? By closing doors, almost 60% of spread bets were hanging on the Browns to cover as the 1.5 home favourites. Not least that percentage was equalled by the amount of money staked on this game. It wasn’t even close when all was said and done as the Falcons edged the Browns 24-13. Bookies did modestly well with this game as those that backed the Falcons to cover were represented by 44.87% of spread bets and 46.99% of money wagered.
Oakland Raiders 12 vs Green Bay Packers 20
Lambeau Field, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Midweek Line: Packers -3, Over/Under Total 42.5
Closing Line: Packers-2.5, Over/Under 42.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Packers 68%
Closing Consensus ATS: Raiders 51.64%
Verdict: The difference between early and late money in this game is significant. Early bettors were all over the Packers – at the time this was one of the most bet games at early doors and the Packers were the most bet home favourite. Late money, though, bought into the Raiders so much so that at closing doors the Raiders represented 51.64% of spread bets on this game. The best bit of news for sportsbooks it marked 71.84% of the money bet on this game. Be it the public, wiseguys, sharp bettors or syndicates, they got it wrong. Bookies were big winners here.
Minnesota Vikings 18 vs Seattle Seahawks 11
CenturyLink Field, 10 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Midweek Line: Seahawks -3.5, Over/Under Total 38.5
Closing Line: Seahawks -2.5, Over/Under 38.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Vikings 56.8%
Closing Consensus ATS: Vikings 55.6%
Verdict: Those that watched this game on TV know just how easily it could have gone one way or the other. It was much closer towards the end than the final score suggested. The colour of money coming down the wire from open doors was conspicuously purple. The public was high on the Vikings evidently and by closing doors books recorded 55.5% of spread bets on Minnesota to cover. However, in spite of this conspicuous lean towards the Vikings, the NFL line moved against the Seahawks from -3 to -2.5 and, in some instances, they were backed down to as low as -1.5 or a PK, depending on your choice sportsbook. This reverse line movement is an indication of late sharp money on the Seahawks – large bets coming down the wire just ahead of kickoff. Indeed, so much so that the 44.5% of spread bets recorded with the Seahawks actually represented almost 60% of the money risked on this game. You can imagine just how thrilled books were when Marcus Sherel lapped up the pick-six late in the game, simultaneously thwarting Seahawks second-half push (they’d only just knotted the game 11-11) and scored a touchdown to serve up the 18-11 Vikings win. In one fell swoop, Sherel probably saved books a lot of money.
NFL Friday, August 19
New York Jets 18 vs. Washington Redskins 22
FedEx Field, 7:30 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Redskins -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Midweek Line: Redskins -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Closing Line: Redskins -2.5/ Over/Under 38.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Redskins 66.7%
Closing Consensus ATS: Redskins 94.12%
Verdict: By the scoreboard, it was a close call. Scoreboards though rarely tell you much about the game itself. The verdict was: Meh. Starters didn’t look particularly good in both camps, touchdowns were taken off the board and mistakes ruled the day. When all was said and done the Redskins edged the Jets, to both win and cover as the home favourites. The game went the way of the public, who were practically all in with the hosts at approximately 95% of spread bets. Good job. It’s worth mentioning that it appears to have been one of the least bet games of the week – a testament to the uncertainty and rather cool feeling about these two teams in public betting circles.
Miami Dolphins 14 vs. Dallas Cowboys 41
AT&T Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Cowboys -3, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Cowboys -3, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Dolphins -1, Over/Under 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Dolphins 51.3%
Closing Consensus ATS: Dolphins 50.82%
Verdict: Boy, the public got this one totally wrong. And it wasn’t even a close call. The Cowboys trounced the Dolphins 41-14, and, in so doing, accounted for the 41-total trading on this game on their own merit. From opening doors, the Dolphins edged the Cowboys in spread betting markets with just above 50% of spread bets. That trend continued throughout the week until closing, prompting the Dolphins to be bet up to from +3 (in some sportsbooks they were as high as +4) to -1. That’s a massive line movement for NFL betting. The interesting twist, however, is the fact that sharp money was wholehearted with the Cowboys. Although they accounted for just 49.18% of spread bets that represented a whopping 73.28% of the money risked on this game. You could say the bookies got a bit of a beating here.
Arizona Cardinals 3 vs. San Diego Chargers 19
Qualcomm Stadium, 9 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Chargers -1.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Chargers -1.5, Over/Under Total 40.5
Closing Line: Cardinals -1.5, Over/Under 40.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Cardinals 55.6%
Closing Consensus ATS: Cardinals 60.54%
Verdict: After the Chargers lost to the Titans in preseason week 1, nobody was buying San Diego as the -1.5 home favourites. Indeed, the public pounded the Cardinals from opening doors and when the market closed the Cardinals were bet up from +1.5 to -1.5. A complete fence jump in the market for this game represented by 60.54% of spread bets on the Cardinals and 65.17% of the money. Following the convincing 19-3 win by the Chargers, the bookmakers cleaned up nicely.
NFL Saturday, August 20
Carolina Panthers 26 vs. Tennessee Titans 16
Nissan Stadium, 3 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Titans -1, Over/Under Total 41.5
Midweek Line: Titans -1, Over/Under Total 41.5
Closing Line: Titans -1, Over/Under 39.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: 50-50
Closing Consensus ATS: Panthers 53. 37%
Verdict: Right off the bat this NFL Line had us scratching our heads? How was it possible the Panthers were at the disadvantage against the Titans? When only the week before they were installed as the favourites on the road to the Ravens – arguably, a much better team than the Titans are in the current state? In any event, the public was largely all over the Panthers with 53.37$ of spread bets that accounted for almost 60% of the money. Bookies didn’t get this one right at all.
New York Giants 0 vs. Buffalo Bills 21
Ralph Wilson Stadium, 4 ET
Opening Line: Bills -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Midweek Line: Bills -2.5, Over/Under Total 40
Closing Line: Bills -2.5, Over/Under 40.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Bills 51.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Bills 53.38%
Verdict: The game between Giants and Bills featured some intriguing action coming down the wire. From opening to closing doors Bills had the majority of spread bets (53.38% at closing) but, remarkably, that amounted to just a measly 24. 62% of the money. What looks to be sharp money coming down the wire, particularly later in the week, was high on the Giants. The 44.62% of spread bets recorded with the Giants represented a whopping 75.38% of the money. Boy, did that go spectacularly wrong or what. Bookies were big winners in this game.
Baltimore Ravens 19 vs. Indianapolis Colts 18
Lucas Oil Stadium, 7 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Colts -3, Over/Under Total 41
Midweek Line: Colts -2.5, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Colts -2.5, Over/Under 39.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Ravens 95.2%
Closing Consensus ATS: Ravens 59.04%
Verdict: Early betting was all over the Ravens according to consensus betting polls (95.2%). Clearly, betting on the Colts did pick up pace as the week plodded along and evened out the market to a 60-40% split between the Ravens and Colts. As the score indicates, this was a close call. Tale told, the public were winners but it easily could have gone the other way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 21
Ever Bank Field, 7:30 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Jaguars -3, Over/Under Total 40.5
Midweek Line: Jaguars -3, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Jaguars -3, Over/Under 41
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Bucs 88.9%
Closing Consensus ATS: Bucs 63.41%
Verdict: The NFL betting line on this game experience very little change throughout the week despite the somewhat lopsided betting tipped towards the Buccaneers. Early betting was heavily skewed to the Bucs (88.9% of spread bets) but later betting on the Jags evened the betting trend percentages to almost 60-40% split between the pair. Tale told the public did get it right as the Bucs edged the Jags 27-21 for the outright win and cover.
New Orleans Saints 9 vs. Houston Texans 16
NRG Stadium, 8 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Texans -3, Over/Under Total 41
Midweek Line: Texans -3, Over/Under Total 41
Closing Line: Texans -1, Over/Under 41.5
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Saints 64.4%
Closing Consensus ATS: Saints 51.81%
Verdict: Although odds makers opened the Texans as field goal favourites, they closed with the Texans hanging on the slim -1 home edge. Public loves to bet the Saints and that popular NFL betting trend appeared here with the Saints garnering the majority of spread bets. Sharp money, however, was on the Texans as the 48.15% of spread bets recorded with the Texans amounted to 60.40% of the money wagered. The disproportional spread bets to money ratio probably played a part in the reverse line movement (Texans whittling down from -3 to -1). All told, sharps were winners here and beat the bookies.
San Francisco 49ers 31 vs. Denver Broncos 24
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 9 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Broncos -3.5, Over/Under Total 40
Midweek Line: Broncos -4.5, Over/Under Total 40
Closing Line: Broncos -6.5, Over/Under Total 40
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Broncos 96.6%
Closing Consensus ATS: Broncos 64.59%
Verdict: The NFL betting trends on this game weren’t surprising at all. After all, the Broncos are the reigning Super Bowl champions. They eviscerated the Bears last week. Oh, and the Niners didn’t look all that good in week 1. By closing doors, the Broncos were bet up to -6.5 on the NFL odds board as the 64.56% of spread bets represented 70.50% of the money. With that kind of exposure on the favourite, bookies had to raise the NFL line in order to balance the action. Shockingly, the Niners pulled off the win and cover at home. Any bettor that bet the underdogs (no matter the line +3, +4.5 or +6.5) cashed at the sports betting window.
Kansas City Chiefs 20 vs. Los Angeles Rams 21
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 9 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Rams -3, Over/Under Total 39
Midweek Line: Rams -3, Over/Under Total 39
Closing Line: Chiefs -2, Over/Under 39
Early Consensus ATS Betting: Rams 57.1%
Closing Consensus ATS: Chiefs 63.84%
Verdict: The NFL betting outlook on this game flipped from -3 Rams at opening doors to -2 Chiefs at closing doors. Such fence jumping is down to the NFL betting action shifting from Rams to Chiefs over the course of the week and bookies balancing the action. At open doors, the Rams were taking in most of the spread bets. However, by the time polling was complete Rams were out-bet. Chiefs accounted for 63.84% of spread bets with 66.14% of the money. Bookies were big winners in this game when all was said and done.