One Step Ahead of the Squares: Understanding Recreational NFL Betting

Jason Lake

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 11:57 AM UTC

Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2015 11:57 AM UTC

If you want to beat the football odds, fading the NFL's “glamour” teams is a good place to start. These are the franchises that distort the betting marketplace the most.

No doubt you've heard the old joke about the man who goes into the doctor's office and says, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” To which the doctor replies, “Well, don't do that.” Congratulations: You now know everything you need to know about betting on football.

Okay, not quite everything. But this is the platform for a contrarian-based approach to taking advantage of recreational bettors and the way they move the football odds. The more of these bettors there are in the marketplace, loading up blindly on their favorite teams, the more the odds move in our favor. Let's take a moment to examine five of the most “public” teams in the NFL and see what makes them tick.


New England Patriots
The Patriots (9-7 ATS last year) often frustrate our NFL picks by beating the spread despite all the “square” money that comes in on them, but they remain a classic example of a public team. Recreational bettors follow successful teams with big-name quarterbacks; the Patriots have won four Super Bowls in the new millennium, and QB Tom Brady is a household name. He can wear all the funny hats he wants and still be adored by his fans.


New Orleans Saints
This formerly sad-sack franchise has been much more competitive since head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees came to town in 2006. The New Orleans Saints (6-10 ATS) also got a boost in public sympathy when Hurricane Katrina struck the previous year, and again to some extent in 2012 when the NFL handed down its draconian Bountygate punishments. Brees is a major TV pitchman, and the Superdome remains an iconic American building, even if the power goes out from time to time.


Indianapolis Colts
The Colts (10-5-1 ATS) were hugely popular when Peyton Manning was their quarterback, and they quickly regained that popularity after QB Andrew Luck was drafted first overall in 2012. Again, the Colts have somehow been beating the NFL odds despite their public following – blame it on head coach Chuck Pagano and his “Chuckstrong” knack for getting his players to perform above the level their advanced stats would suggest.


Green Bay Packers
Speaking of American icons, the Packers have been kicking around for nearly 100 years, winning their first NFL Championship under Curly Lambeau in 1929. That allows the Packers (9-6-1 ATS) to avoid the “small-market” anonymity that you'd normally get from playing in Wisconsin. QB Aaron Rodgers has taken over for Brett Favre as the team's featured superstar, and if you turn your TV on right now (provided you still have one), you can probably see Rodgers trying to sell you something.


Pittsburgh Steelers
Here's another old-school franchise, although the Steelers (9-7 ATS) don't predate the NFL like the Packers do. They won four Super Bowls during the 1970s with Terry Bradshaw under center, and now they've won another two championships with QB Ben Roethlisberger calling the signals. Of the five teams we've mentioned, the Saints and Steelers have been the most inconsistent from year to year, so be prepared to get your fade on in 2015.

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