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2023 NFL Week 2 Betting Picks Guide—Early-Season Division Dogs

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

NFL 2023 Week 2 NFL Betting Picks: Backing Four Division Dogs

We are backing four underdogs to beat the number in NFL 2023-24 week 2 divisional action

Underdogs have exhibited an edge versus the number in regular season NFL intra-division play. Since the 2003-04 season, point-takers are 970-901-12 ATS versus their division, for 51.9% cover rate—better than the 50% cover rate one would expect absent any advantage. Our hypothesis is that because the NFL schedule mandates that division members play each other twice per season, and because teams are incented to win games versus their division (as the top teams in each division receive automatic playoff berths), squads undertake an extra measure of preparation and ultimately enjoy increased familiarity in such matchups. As a result, we suspect scoring margins are more likely to fall within the spread range.


We have observed evidence consistent with the idea that betting markets are too pessimistic on the prospects versus the spread for division dogs, in particular, early in the season. Rationalizing this finding, we believe that, absent a sufficient amount of current season performance data, bettors are more inclined to side with favorites, causing mispriced betting spreads and value with dogs, as bookmakers shade lines in response to this tendency—Humphreys, Paul & Weinback (2013) document a general tendency for the betting public to side with favorites ATS, while Humphreys (2010) and Paul & Weinbach (2021) offer evidence that bookmakers price games in order to maximize profits (as opposed to trying to limit risk by taking in equal amounts of action on both sides of a line).


Backing underdogs in NFL early season divisional action has proven a consistently profitable long-term betting angle

The angle indicated above has proven good for a 14% long-term return on investment and has submitted only three losing seasons over the entirety of the examination period.


For week 2, five games (indicated below) fit the criteria for this system. We are not fully embracing the play on the Colts though, as we took the Texans +1 earlier this week (see here for details). We might consider taking the point with Indy as a hedge, given the revocation of the prior signal and the contrary indication here, but we do not endorse standalone play. The four NFL betting picks we endorse, pursuant to this angle, are indicated in bold.


Indianapolis Colts +1 @ Houston Texans

Baltimore Ravens +3.5 -120 @ Cincinnati Bengals

San Francisco 49ers @ LA Rams +7.5 -115

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots +3 -125

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers +3


Happy betting!!


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