Timing is everything when you make your NFL picks. If you can figure out which teams are likely to get too much action from casual bettors, you can squeeze even more value out of the weekly NFL odds.
Jason’s record after Week 9: 26-36 ATS, 10-14-1 Totals
Profit: minus-34.81 units
Think back to when you were a kid and you first discovered the NFL. What was it that drew you in? The excitement of scoring a touchdown? The pride of following your local team? The colorful uniforms? Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t the aesthetic appreciation for a well-executed Spider 2 Y Banana route.
This is why there’s money to be made betting on the NFL. We’re all still fans of the game, but some people who bet on football are more fanatical than others. They bet on the things they like – touchdowns and personalities and team colors. And when they bet, they distort the marketplace, moving the NFL odds in relatively predictable ways. We can take advantage of this when we make our football picks. We almost have to if we want to squeeze a profit margin out of this.
San Diego Zoo
Long-time readers of this space will be familiar with the concept of contrarian betting: If the public bets on Team X, you should bet on Team Y. That’s what we often end up doing, and when we do, we want to place our bets as early in the week as possible. Let’s take next Sunday’s matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers. Even though the Chargers have lost their last three games SU and ATS, and they dropped the cash to Oakland in their last meeting, we can expect the public to bet on San Diego this week.
Why can we expect this? Several reasons. One, the Chargers have a winning record, while the Raiders have yet to win a game this season. Two, San Diego opened as an 8-point home favorite; people tend to bet on favorites and home teams without paying enough attention to the spread. And three, the Bolts have a nationally recognized player in quarterback Philip Rivers, who has made five Pro Bowls. The Raiders don’t have much in the way of starpower.
Brown is the New Black
Here’s a noted public darling that might get too much action this week: the New Orleans Saints. They opened as 5.5-point home faves against the Cincinnati Bengals, a pretty decent team at 5-3-1 (4-4-1 ATS) that doesn’t have much of a national following – certainly not at the level of the Saints. We can help verify this by looking at the public money charts available online. The Saints are ranked No. 3 this year, while the Bengals are No. 18.
You might not think of the Cleveland Browns as a public team, but we’d expect casual fans to overly place NFL picks on the Browns this week when they host the Houston Texans. Cleveland has a higher profile these days, having drafted Johnny Manziel (even if Brian Hoyer is starting at quarterback) and having won five of their last six games at 3-2-1 ATS. But Cleveland’s quality of opposition was low for the most part, and Houston is another example of a decent-enough regional team that carries some betting value into any matchup.
Just because a team is adored by the public doesn’t necessarily make it a bad bet. The Denver Broncos are getting unanimous public support in early betting for their game against the St. Louis Rams, who opened as 8-point home dogs. In theory, the Rams have some betting value here, but the Broncos are playing at such a high level, covering five of their last six games, that the sharps are betting on Denver now before the spread gets any bigger. Having said that, if you like the Rams instead, you can afford to be patient and wait until closer to kick-off before betting. You’ll probably get a whole lot more than eight points by then.