Recreational bettors have just begun trickling into the marketplace for Week 1. What teams are they putting in their football picks, and should we do the opposite?
Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 12: 1-0 ATS; 1-0 Total
Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom – of public money coming in for Week 1 of the new NFL season. It's late Saturday afternoon as we go to press; our consensus reports show a limited amount of early-weekend line movement, so we can't speculate too much about where recreational bettors are making their NFL picks. Not with this data, at least.
Good thing we have an entire week of data to work with – and plenty more on top of that. The NFL odds for Week 1 have been out ever since the 2015 schedule was released back in the spring. We've already identified which teams those bettors were most likely to support, so let's look at the fresh numbers and see how things are going.
The New England Patriots have already played and won their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, so that leaves three public teams from our original list: the New Orleans Saints, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Green Bay Packers. Two of these teams have generated enough support throughout the week to see their NFL odds move significantly: Indianapolis is up from –1.5 to as high as –3 against the Buffalo Bills, and Green Bay is up from –4.5 to –7 against the Chicago Bears.
Those are potentially damaging line moves for Colts and Packers supporters. Both road faves have steamed onto the two most magical numbers in football betting; if the Colts win by a field goal, or the Packers win by a touchdown, those ATS wins have now turned into pushes. Should we fade those teams instead? Well, as we said earlier in the week, we're not too keen on fading Chuck Pagano (24-16-2 ATS) or Mike McCarthy (89-64-4 ATS).
That leaves the New Orleans Saints, and I have to say, it's a bit shocking to see them with just 35 percent consensus as 2.5-point road dogs against the Arizona Cardinals. That's down from earlier in the week, not up. Has their public deserted them after last year's 7-9 SU, 6-10 ATS debacle? Or are people suddenly keen on the Cardinals?
How about neither? The Saints are still one of the most popular teams there is, with noted brandbot Drew Brees at quarterback and plenty of goodwill left over from their Super Bowl XLIV victory. They could still end up drowning in public money before kick-off. And while the Cardinals are 28-13-4 ATS under Bruce Arians, they're still a small-market team out in the desert with a much less-celebrated QB in Carson Palmer. We'll keep an eye on this matchup and see where the money ends up landing for future reference. In the meantime, if you like the Cardinals, you could do worse than locking them in right now at –2.5, just in case they move to –3.