Road Dogs the Secret to Cash in with your Week 15 NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Friday, December 12, 2014 1:48 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 1:48 PM UTC

When the Week 15 NFL odds first hit the board, the sharps were all over three of the worst teams in the league. Did those early consensus numbers hold up? And should we pound those same three underdogs?

They know what they’re doing, folks. Remember how we told you earlier this week about the unanimous support for the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the Week 15 NFL odds board? Good thing we were there to witness those early consensus reports; as we go to press, only the Raiders (+10.5 away) appear with that glorious 100 percent intact in early betting for Sunday’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The other two teams saw their early unanimity get overwritten. The Vikings (+7.5 away) now show up with just 46 percent consensus at the open for Sunday’s tilt with the Detroit Lions. And the Buccaneers (+3 away)? They could only hold onto 37 percent support with the Carolina Panthers next on the docket. However, both Minnesota and Tampa Bay are carrying a majority of bettors as we go to press, as are the Raiders. The sharps have indeed spoken.

Vikings, Raiders & Bucs to Offer Value

You can add the Jacksonville Jaguars (+14 away) to this dogpile, too. They’ve got 56 percent support for their Sunday matinee versus the Baltimore Ravens. So what’s all the fuss over these road dogs? Haven’t we been told to avoid road teams during Week 15 and beyond? This is supposed to be the time of year when bad teams with nothing to play for fold up their tents, especially when they have to travel and play in lousy weather.

Looks like we’ll have to adjust that strategy a little. PJ Walsh crunched the numbers from the past 10 seasons and found that road teams with losing records are 59-45 ATS (56.7 percent) against winning teams in Weeks 15 through 17. It’s about specificity; when we want to fade a beaten-up road team during the late season, we want the teams that the public is still supporting, and we want them to be travelling long distances to play in unfamiliar weather conditions.

The public wants very little to do with the four teams in question. They’re among the lowest-ranked teams on the public money charts, with the Jaguars (2-11 SU, 3-9 ATS) pulling up the rear. These underdogs might have a majority of bettors on their side as we go to press, but we expect the public to come in over the weekend and put their money on the favorites. And yes, that includes the Panthers (4-8-1 SU, 7-6 ATS), even though they’re not a winning team, and even though they’ll be starting Derek Anderson at quarterback against Tampa Bay.

Doubloons, Yarrrr
We can further verify the sharpness of these underdog picks by looking at our expanded consensus reports to see where and how much money is being wagered. This is survey information, by the way – not every single dollar that people use on their NFL picks is accounted for here. It’s a representative sample slice of the betting market.

As it turns out, of all the teams playing in Week 15, it’s the Bucs with the largest average bet at $1,932. That is a monster bet, and it comes from a relatively small number of bettors. Both of these suggest sharp money at work. The bets on Jacksonville ($59) and Minnesota ($52) are much smaller, though, and the markets for those two games are split almost evenly in terms of raw dollars.

Oakland ($48) is an outlier here. Almost two-thirds of the cash wagered in this game is falling on Kansas City, with an average bet size of $116.75. Do the sharps not feel as confident about the Raiders as it appeared at first blush? Do they expect the Chiefs to come back strong after losing to Oakland (+7.5 at home) in Week 12? Perhaps the betting patterns over the weekend will reveal all.

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