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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

2019 NFL Week 8 Thursday Night Football: Taking the Flyer on a Huge Line

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Minnesota Vikings -16.5 -110

U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

October 24, 2019, 5:20 PM Pacific


Our power rankings work is equivocal for the NFL's week 8 edition of Thursday Night Football, calling for a home win by somewhere between 15 and 18 points. While this margin is decisive in absolute terms, it is utterly non-committal in light of the current 16.5 point spread.

In spite of the lack of guidance from our primary system though, we are backing the home team ATS, as we have observed several trends that suggest the Vikings should secure the cover this evening.

First, 'fade the public' is an oft-cited mantra in betting markets, and in fact, we have advocated betting against the apples of the public's eye, at seemingly opportune times.

However, we also know that the public tends to demonstrate keen foresight during what we refer to as the belly of the NFL season. Specifically, bettors have been paid handsomely to side with the wagering consensus' picks during weeks 7-12.

Consistent with this admonition, teams with the support of at least 55% of spread wagers were 7-4-1 ATS last week. If history is any guide, this simple system should steer adherent bettors toward the cashier's window plenty over the course the next five weeks.

(57% of the roughly 9,000 spread wagers tracked by The Action Network and 60% of dollars bet against the spread are down on Minnesota, as of the time of this writing.)

Separately, there just seems to be something about Thursday nights that motivates favorites. Generally speaking, back to 1978, chalk layers are 156-124-9 ATS (56%) in Thursday games. Home favorites have been especially profitable over this horizon, cashing in at about a 57% clip (on a record of 100-76-7 ATS).

On the other hand, it is no secret that NFL teams have struggled to cover the BIG chalk historically. Since 2003, teams expected to win by at least ten in regular season action are 223-273-8 ATS (46%). Even at home, big favorites are a losing 46% versus the number over this timeframe.

But the magic of Thursdays has (somehow) proven more potent motivation for good teams facing bad teams than large spreads have been an obstacle. There are 33 examples in Pro Football Reference's database of home teams laying double-digits on a Thursday. Such teams have been utterly dominant against the spread in this small sample, covering 24 times (73%).

Bottom line: The combination of the consensus expectation for the home cover, at the point in the season where the herd has demonstrated considerable predictive abilities, and the strong tendency for favorites to cover on Thursdays -- even big favorites, motivates us to back the Vikings (albeit unofficially, as our power rankings work did not give the nod).

Happy betting!!

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