Who wants to bet on the Cleveland Browns this week? Casual fans don’t seem ready to add the Browns to their NFL picks, not according to the weekend consensus reports for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jason’s record after Week 5: 19-16 ATS, 5-7-1 Totals
Profit: plus-0.1 units
At some point, it’s going to be okay to like the Cleveland Browns for your NFL picks. All the pain and embarrassment from years past will be washed away. People will stop making jokes at Cleveland’s expense. Instead, they’ll sing the team’s praises. The Browns will come out of this even more heroically for having suffered so long.
That day might be just around the corner. But it hasn’t happened yet; as we go to press, the Pittsburgh Steelers have increased their consensus lead over Cleveland for Sunday’s game (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) in front of the Dawg Pound. Pittsburgh is the preferred choice of 57 percent of bettors as a +105 dog, down from +1 (+105) at the open, when 53 percent of bettors were on the Browns. Are Steelers fans on the wrong side of the NFL odds this week?
Upper Upper Class Twit of the Year
We won’t know until the game’s over, but if you apply basic handicapping principles to this matchup, you might have to put Pittsburgh in the “square” bucket. It’s not just the concept that sharps bet early and squares bet late – you’ve also got the Browns pulling in over 51 percent of the action, with an average bet size of $90 compared to $65 for Pittsburgh. Bigger bets usually mean sharper bets.
Then again, the Steelers have got the biggest bets of them all. Our expanded consensus figures show five $1,000-plus bets on Pittsburgh, and just one on Cleveland. Maybe we need to subdivide the sharps into middle class and upper class. But what if that one bet on the Browns is for mega money? Upper upper class?
The Publius Enigma
So far, there’s only one other game in Week 6 where we’ve seen the consensus flip, and that’s in Sunday’s late afternoon tilt (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) at the Georgia Dome between the Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons. It was Atlanta getting 53 percent consensus as a 3-point chalk and holding onto that support all the way through Friday morning, when Chicago turned the tables at 54 percent.
Should we sound the square alarm? The Falcons are still getting the majority of the action at nearly 52 percent, including two big bets to Chicago’s one. And the Bears should be the more public team of the two – although Atlanta has taken in slightly more action this year, according to the public money charts. Sharp or square, if the Bears keep building consensus leading up to kick-off, they might only end up getting 2.5 points from the NFL odds.
Other than that, the sharps and squares are both at the bar drinking together. They’ve both been loading up on the usual suspects; the New England Patriots have held firm at around 60 percent support for their Sunday tilt (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) with the Buffalo Bills, and the Denver Broncos are drawing bettors at a 2:1 ratio for Sunday’s game (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) against the New York Jets.
One of these games is not like the other. The underdog Bills are getting over 61 percent of the action against the Patriots, which we would again attribute to the sharps and their bulging bankrolls. On the other hand, nearly 96 percent of the money in the Broncos-Jets game is falling on the Broncos. Everyone wants to bet on Denver this week. Almost everyone, that is. But you can understand if the sharps have more faith in Kyle Orton than they do in Geno Smith and/or Michael Vick. Only one of those three men has a positive DYAR total this year. Hint: He doesn’t play for the Jets.