Week 4 NFL Picks Consensus Reports: Who’s Wrong?

Jason Lake

Sunday, September 28, 2014 2:30 PM UTC

Sunday, Sep. 28, 2014 2:30 PM UTC

As we get ready to bet on the NFL in Week 4, let’s browse the consensus reports and see where the squares have been shopping. Whatever it is they’re buying, we’ll probably want to do the opposite. 

Jason’s record after Week 3: 6-13 ATS, 3-3-1 Totals

Profit: minus-13.6 units

If you’ve ever looked outside your window and wondered why so many things are so messed up, the answer is simple: It’s what the market will bear. People buy the darndest things: fruit leather, coffee whitener, American flags made in China, semi-automatic rifles – you name it. Even smart people make dumb purchases. As Lou Reed once sang, does anyone need a $60,000 car (100K in 2014 dollars)?

Once you see betting on the NFL for what it is – a competitive marketplace of investors – it doesn’t take much of a leap to see the value of contrarian betting. We talked last week about using our consensus reports to help you separate the sharps from the squares, and we like to kick off every week by looking out for early sharp action. Now that the weekend is here and the squares are in the market, let’s use the consensus reports to see where the public is shopping. After all, as any qualified life coach will tell you before taking your money, it’s twice as important to stop doing the wrong thing as to figure out the right thing.


Sunday: Detroit Lions vs. N.Y. Jets (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX)
Week 3 of the NFL betting season saw the Detroit Lions (–1 at home) beat the Green Bay Packers 19-7 to improve to 2-1 SU and ATS, while the New York Jets (–1.5 at home) lost 37-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles to fall to 1-2 SU and 0-2-1 ATS. So which way is the public going on this one? Would you believe with New York? The Jets were getting just 39 percent support on Thursday’s consensus report; as we go to press on Saturday night, that figure is up to 46 percent and rising.

We could blame this one on market size. The Jets might be the B-Team in the Big Apple, but that’s still a massive marketplace full of die-hard fans who love to put their money where their collective mouth is. Detroit is, well, Detroit. However, the Lions have been pulling in a lot of public money this year. The shift in betting patterns might have more to do with WR Calvin Johnson, who’s listed as questionable for Week 4 after a limited practice on Friday.

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Sunday: Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
If you want to find the biggest gap between sharp money and square money, it’s usually best to look for the worst teams on the NFL odds board. Sharps find value in many (definitely not all) of these poor souls, while squares are notorious for treating unpopular underdogs like red-headed stepchildren.

For this week’s NFL Picks bargain-bin special, we go to across the pond to Wembley Stadium, where the Oakland Raiders (0-3 SU, 2-1 ATS) are playing the Miami Dolphins (1-2 SU and ATS) as 3.5-point underdogs. Oakland shot out of the gate with 58 percent consensus in early betting, and Wednesday’s reports still had the Raiders pulling in 52 percent support. By Thursday, that number had dropped to 42 percent, where it remains at press time.

Is this square action? Thursday’s a bit early for that, so again, this change in action might be in response to WR Rod Streater (foot) missing the next 4-5 weeks, and/or Oakland putting safety Tyvon Branch (foot) on injured reserve. However, we can’t treat the consensus numbers in a vacuum: Note that the Raiders moved from +4 to +3.5 as the action shifted to Miami. That suggests deeper pockets unloading on Oakland, and deeper pockets usually belong to those placing sharp NFL picks. Just don’t blow all that money on vitamins.

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