Betting Against the Public in NFL
Many sports bettors are unfamiliar with the concept behind the point spread. The line on the game is not created to make both teams equal on the field or on the court, but is intended to attract an equal amount of money bet on both sides of a game. The oddsmaker may believe that the Seattle Seahawks are only five points better than the Arizona Cardinals, but also realizes that he makes Seattle -5 over Arizona the majority of money wagered will be on the Seahawks, so he will make the line on the game Seattle -7 to account for the perception of the betting public.
When it comes to betting, the public perception of the two teams is given more weight in the NFL than in any other sport mainly due to the amount of money that the public wagers on the sport. While the sportsbooks are more concerned with beating the “wiseguys” in the other sports, they are more interested in beating the public during the NFL season. Fortunately for the sportsbooks, the betting public has some predictable tendencies and smart bettors can take advantage of that fact.
The betting public tends to place too much emphasis on what transpired the previous week and has a short memory in that regard. Between the 2009 and 2013 seasons, teams which won their previous game straight up and against the point spread were 493-524-29 against the spread in their next game, which is just 48.5%.
But as much as online betting public loves winners, they despise losers even more, which is where you can find some decent value bets. Between 2009 and 2013, away underdogs who lost their previous game straight up as an away underdog were a solid 65-49-1 (57%) against the point spread the following week. If they were playing a team that was off an outright road victory, the winning percentage climbs to 23-14, which is 62.2%.
The ideal betting situation occurs when you have a team coming off a big win and is playing a team coming off a big loss. You know the public will be betting on the winning team and so do the oddsmakers. Since the start of the 2009 season, teams off a 17-point or more victory playing against a team coming off a 17-point or greater loss were just 19-31 (38%) against the point spread.
Don’t be afraid to back the public in the NFL, and in fact, look for opportunities to do just that.