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Against the Public Preview NFL Week 13

November 30, 2014

I first learned about contrarian betting back in the late nineties when I worked at a bar and I heard tales of a guy who would come in and ask everyone seated at the bar before a big game who they liked. If most people were thinking one way, he would call his bookie right then and there on his bad 90’s flip phone and place the bet the other way. People would tell him how dumb he was and that he was just giving away money. But he would usually end up winning those bets and people would eat their words.

I’ve studied and paid much attention to the public trends since then. Betting against the public on a heavily lopsided game does not guarantee you are going to win. In fact, some years you will even lose doing this. But there are several key factors I’ve isolated that are very important when choosing the right ATP (Against the Public) game to bet. Again, this is not an exact science, but these factors do help in selecting the right game.

1) Make sure it is a heavily bet/popular game. ATP isn’t so great when it is two nobody’s like Utah State vs. Fordham or something like that.

2) Make sure there aren’t a bunch of injury changes or weather changes. You want to have the least amount of variables so the public gets a “feel” for the game.

3) The more prime time and hype driven the better.

4) Make sure your source for public stats is accurate. Even the poll at the bar will due when stats aren’t available.

5) Make sure the numbers you are studying are swayed by the area you live. If you live in Green Bay the “person at the bar test” on the Green Bay game may be skewed.

6) ATP rules go out window when one team really sucks perpetually all year long. That can really skew the public. If the game is, for example a 7-1 team vs. an 0-8 team that gets beat by 38 on average, do yourself a favor. Don’t bet it.

7) If the line is huge skip it. This means that one of the teams sucks perpetually and the public opinion goes out the window. Example: Oregon vs. Wyoming and the line is Oregon -32. There is no reason to look at this game on the ATP level.

Applying these rules to this weekends NFL games:

Washington (+9) at Indy (-9)

Here is a good start. Indy and Washington are two well known NFL teams. This is the most heavily bet game of the day as of the time posting this article (572 people on Indy and 70 on Washington). It is also the most lopsided betting (89% to 11%). The one thing this game has going against it is the fact that they have changed QB from last week to third stringer Colt McCoy. The good news is that they did it right away at the start of the week so plenty time has been given to help the public form their opinion. This is the ATP play of the day. On a scale from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the strongest play) betting The Washington Redskins is a solid 4. It would be a 5 if not for the QB situation and the fact that it is not primetime but just a regular afternoon game.

Tennessee (+7) at Houston (-7)

This is a very lopsided bet game. But it is very low in the actual number of bets. 176 people bet on the Texans and only 28 have bet on the Titans. The QB’s for both teams have been changed several times this year. It is not a prime time game. Even though this is a very lopsided game I would not recommend betting this one based on the ATP philosophy.

San Diego (+6) at Baltimore (-6)

This one is very nice and lopsided. It also has a decent amount of people betting it. 311 people bet Baltimore vs only 108 on San Diego. It is an NFL game so the public knows both teams well.  It is not primetime however.  The starting lineups at key positions have been constant which is good. This game would be like a 3 on the ATP strength scale.

I typically don’t base more than a few picks a week on the ATP principle. It has to really stick out for me to bet it. I would suggest sticking to the two picks mentioned above. The last lopsided action game is very borderline and is probably a strength of 2.

Oakland (+7) at St. Louis (-7)

279 folks have bet the Rams at home vs only 44 people on Oakland. The problem with this game is that Oakland has sucked bad all year long. Also, The Rams look to be surging. Not in primetime. Not well known/much watched teams. Nobody cares. ATP strength of 1-2. I wouldn’t bet it.

In conclusion, do not make your entire betting approach about betting against the public. Mix it in with your other handicapping. Maybe there is only one good ATP next week. Don’t force it. If you see a gem that meets all the requirements, bet it. But if you end up talking yourself  into it, don’t bet it. We have one more pick left on the board from another article written earlier this week. In that article, we gave five total picks and as of now they are 3-1.