Reverse Line Movements Create Value for Our Week 13 NFL Picks

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 1:39 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 1:39 PM UTC

In this column, we sift through week 13’s NFL odds board and spot reverse line movements and how NFL bettors should approach those matchups on their NFL picks.

Reverse Line Movements In Week 13
Reverse line movements are those that contradict consensus public betting percentages. Why is it important to spot reverse line movements, you may be wondering. Well, reverse line movements can be great indicators of sharp money action or large bets having come down the wire and gone against public consensus betting, in which case the best NFL pick might be to bet against the public by quickly tailgating the matchup in question, finding a sportsbook still offering similar inflated NFL lines (consensus betting will vary at times from sportsbook to sportsbook, hence line movements will not be identical or occur at the same time) and then fade the public’s trendy NFL pick (be it a favorite or underdog).

In cases of widespread reverse line movement (from sportsbook to sportsbook) occurring in early NFL betting markets, it may no longer be possible to fade the public. Those instances are best approached with patience: wait on the spread to bet later – allowing emotions to run their course and bookies to adjust NFL lines in order to balance the action, an NFL bettor can see where the dust settles and decide then where the value/sharp NFL pick is to be had before closing doors.

Finally, it’s important to note that sharp bettors don’t always get it right, so taking the lead from sharp money isn’t a full proof betting strategy. By that we mean it’s not always the winning strategy to follow sharp money for your NFL picks.  Sometimes the public does get it right, in which case a reverse line movement might presents a spread to bet now before the line starts to move back in accordance to public consensus betting.

In table 1, we serve up a full schedule of the games slated for week 13 and indicate where consensus betting is to be had according to SBR, all while comparing advanced lines to current NFL betting lines in order to highlight the significant movements.

Looking at table 1, there are several reverse line movements that have gone against public consensus betting. They practically leap off of the SBR page: Packers moving from -5.5 to -3, Buccaneers moving from -2.5 to -1, Cardinals moving from -6 to -5.5, NY Jets moving from -1 to -2.5 and Broncos moving from -6 to -4.


How Should NFL Bettors Bet These Matchups?
In this part of the column, we take the best of the aforementioned reverse line moves and determine whether NFL bettors should bet against the public, wait to bet later or bet now.


Spread To Bet Against Public
As indicated in table 1, the NY Giants are the consensus bet with almost 60% of the public pounding the hosts on their NFL picks according to SBR. Yet, the NFL lines are moving against the Giants, marking an interesting reverse line move to spot. Digging deeper….

Upon closer inspection, we glean that the 60% (approx.) consensus betting on the Giants actually amounts to less money ($$$) wagered than the 40% on the Jets. In monetary terms, the money on the Jets amounts to 51% of the cash coming down the wire, which is quite noteworthy of sharp money. You can still get the Jets at -1 against the spread with 5Dimes.

NFL Picks: Jets -1 (-120) at 5Dimes

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Spread To Bet Now
Although SBR consensus betting reveals 68.97 % of the public betting is on the Cardinals, which also correlates to an even higher 76.45 % of the money coming down the wire, the NFL line is moving against the public with the Cardinals slipping by half a point – from an advanced line of 6 to 5.5 points. The move could be down to Chris Johnson’s season-ending injury, not to mention the rather tight win over the Niners in week 12 where the Cardinals failed to cover as the 7.5-point road favorites.

Six is the fourth most common margin of victory in the NFL. The Cardinals are 6-5 ATS with an 11.5-point margin of victory and a plus 6.6-point differential against the spread, highlighted by a five-game winning streak going into week 13 NFL betting. Against teams that are under .500 such as the St. Louis Rams (4-7 SU or .364), the Cardinals boast a 5-3 ATS mark with a 16.25-point winning margin on average and a 10.2-point differential against the spread. Granted the Rams pulled off the rare win over the Cardinals on the road earlier this season, winning 24-22 to mastermind one of the biggest upsets in the early weeks. But the Rams have digressed considerably since then, mainly at the quarterback position.

NFL Picks: Cardinals -5.5 (-105) at Bookmaker

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Spread To Wait On
Although consensus betting demonstrates a heavy lean on the Broncos with 68.26% of the wagers coming down the wire pounding the Broncos, NFL odds boards reveal a reverse line movement on this game with the Broncos coming down from -6 to -4 almost unanimously from sportsbook to sportsbook.

Clearly, the public is buying what Brock Osweiler and the Broncos are selling after they upset the undefeated Patriots in week 12 NFL betting, to the tune of 76.56 % of actual money wagered on this game. There’s the danger of this trend being an overestimation of the Broncos following the big upset, especially when considering the potential of the hangover effect that typically follows a big win such as this one was for the unheralded Broncos’ understudy Brock Osweiler.

The Chargers, meanwhile, finally snapped the negative trend with a 31-25 win over the Jaguars on the road in the same week. Still, the public isn’t buying what the Chargers are selling with only 32.48% of bets coming down the wire going towards the Chargers. The actual monetary value equates to just 23.44% of total $$ wagered. The Chargers simply haven’t lived up to preseason expectations and one win over a so-so Jaguars side probably isn’t enough to coax NFL bettors to jump on their bandwagon.

So why are we waiting on this spread then? Four is the fifth most common margin of victory over the past 12 seasons. In fact, the Broncos are 6-5 ATS with a 4.1-point margin of victory on average this season and boast a plus 1.9-point differential against the spread on average. Importantly, Broncos are just 3-5 ATS as favorites with just a 1.6-point margin of victory and a negative 2.4-point differential against the spread on average – this includes Brock Osweiler’s 17-15 win over the Bears on the road, in which the Broncos failed to cover as the 2.5-point faves.

Plus, there don’t seem to be any indicators of sharp money according to the division of bets and money coming down the wire to underscore the reverse line movement. If the public continues to pound the Broncos with such vehemence though, the NFL lines could start to balloon back towards the 6-point mark, in which case contrarian value might start to appear on the Chargers to cover as the home underdogs. As such, we’re waiting on this spread to see if it does in fact go up over the course of the week, presenting a sharp opportunity to fade the public on our NFL picks.

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