NFL Week 2: Sunday AGAINST THE SPREAD Betting Guide
Emerging Betting Trends
One of the most pronounced betting trends we observed in week 1 was the line's poor record forecasting ATS outcomes. We have repeatedly cited empirical analysis, such as that of Boulier & Stekler (2003), or Xu (2013), that heralds the absolute and relative accuracy of the spread -- especially the closing line -- as a predictor of actual outcomes. Despite its historical precision, changes in the betting line went 4-8-1 versus the number in week 1.
More consistent with the historical norm, betting against teams that attract extreme levels of betting volume has also been a winning strategy through the first week of the new season. Teams that attracted less than 40% of outstanding bets finished week 1 with a record of 7-3 ATS. As broader evidence of the merit of fading the public, Cosmo Kramer of SportsInsights observed that teams garnering less than 30% of betting interest by volume are 11-3 versus the number over the last three seasons. Of particular interest at present, Kramer also notes that week 2 has historically been the most profitable period for betting against the teams with extreme levels of public support -- the very unloved are 42-28, for a 60% win rate, in the last 70 applicable contests.
Last Week's Picks and Pans
Due to an intense travel schedule, we were only able to post picks for week 1's Thursday and Monday night contests. The Chiefs cover at the Pats surprised most bettors (as about two out of every three the ATS wagers tracked by SportsInsights sided with the defending champions), but worked as we expected--or better, as we did not expect the Chiefs to also collect on the moneyline. On the other hand, the Broncos let a large lead slip away in the fourth versus the Chargers Monday evening, and we were forced to settle for the push. Resultantly, we entered week 2 up one unit of profit, and with a record of 1-0-1.
Brass Tacks: The Current Week
For week 2, our framework mustered picks both against the spread and on the total for the second installment of Thursday Night Football. Both plays cashed in, so, at 3-0-1 on the young season, we are off to a fast start -- as has been our tendency in recent years. We like our chances of keeping the magic going through week 2, as several of our picks this week are inline with the bigger picture trend of betting against extremes in public sentiment. Our full slate of NFL Sunday picks is indicated in the table just below. Note that six of our 11 week 2 picks (including the Texans Thursday evening) support teams for whom the betting public expects very little.
Also worth noting, 'full house' support was triggered for four of our picks (indicated in bold font in the table). This occurs when all factors in our power ranking and computer simulation frameworks unanimously endorse the same against-the-spread outcome. This indication of ultimate conviction notched an enviable record of 18-9 last season, and highlighted the Jets, Jags, Broncos and Washington last week (good for 2-1-1 so far this year).
Moreover, three of our frameworks strongest plays--the Colts, Jets (again) and Broncos (again)--are deeply out of favor among the betting public. Per the prior discussion related to the informational content of line movement, we interpret this circumstance as supportive.