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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

2019 NFL Week 2: The Ideal Spot to Fade the Public

It has been observed that fading the public, or taking the opposite side of a wager as the vast majority of bettors, has been a profitable approach to NFL betting. An account from OddsShark for instance, found that a strategy of wagering against NFL ATS plays where 70-75% of bettors were aligned cashed in 53-54% of the time in recent history.

We note though that there are points in the season that have proven decidedly more profitable for contrarian-minded bettors. In fact, week 2 is historically THE optimal time to buck popularity. We discussed this observation in our piece for Thursday Night Football. Writers for The Action Network recently documented similar findings during the period spanning weeks 2 and 3 of the regular NFL year, which they dub "Overreaction Season".

The following graphic illustrates five NFL games still on the week 2 docket, featuring teams with the support of no more than 30% of betting volume as of the time of this writing. The "Spread" column in the chart indicates the lowest spread that our power rankings framework considers playable.

LA Chargers @ Detroit Lions

Per SportsInsights, CRIS opened the Lions as three-point dogs, but that line saw downward pressure immediately. The spread is +1.5 currently, despite Detroit-backers making up only 37% of the pool of dollars wagered against the number. This so-called reverse line movement suggests the ship has probably sailed on the prospect of Detroit +3, as professional bettors are likely driving the spread lower.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

The Raiders line opened at +7.5 and has held there. Seven out of every ten bets on this game are down on Kansas City, however, this lopsided take is balanced by six of every ten dollars wagered being on Oakland. That is to say, don't hold your breath for Raiders +8.

Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos

The Broncos opened as slight favorites, but the Bears seem to be the apple of the eye of both square and sharp bettors after losing to Green Bay last week. At present, Chicago has collected the backing of 70% of spread bets and 65% of dollars committed to the ATS outcome of this contest. This one-way action explains the dramatic shift in the line, from -1 to the current +2.5. At this rate, the key +3 level looks to be a distinct possibility.

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins

The Skins played well last week, covering by five versus the Eagles from the position of double-digit underdogs. However, with the backing of only 18% of spread bets (and an even lower percentage of dollars on the line), Washington is the least liked team of week 2. This probably owes to the fact that the Redskins are set to face a Cowboys squad that steamrolled the Giants last week, winning by 18 as seven-point favorites and controlling the game throughout.

Again, the heavy skew of betting interest explains the trend in line movment. After briefly dipping from +4 to +3.5 last week, the spread has widened consistently, and now stands at +6. Inclined Redskins backers might be well served to wait until closer to kick-off to take positions, with the hope of locking in +6.5 (or better).

Cleveland Browns @ New York Jets

...And the award for the largest line move of the week (so far) goes to...the Browns at Jets, on Monday Night Football. This spread change though appears to be largely driven by personnel. Jets QB Sam Darnold was announced out for week 2, and RB LeVeon Bell's status was updated to questionable on Wednesday. The spread instantly shot up from Jets +2.5 to +7 momentarily, but then settled at +6.5.

We had the Jets favored before this news hit the wire, and suspect that the same level of undervaluation persists through the adjustments of recent days. In our reckoning though, given that 79% of ATS wagers by volume and 83% of dollars bet are backing the Browns, +7 seems within the realm of the possible. As such, we recommend sitting tight for a couple of days, and pouncing on the Jets closer to action time, ideally at plus the TD.

Happy betting!!

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