Fade the Public Betting Trends Week 15

Taking a second look at the more popular betting trends.

As sports gambling becomes more mainstream, more and more people are looking for insight on what games to bet on and what lines to take. One approach is to look at the ‘popular’ lines, where people follow the crowd and bet on the games that everyone else is betting. This ‘Go with the Flow’ mentality can provide a sense of security because if a lot of other people are doing it, there must be something there.

But sometimes the public can have it wrong. Sometimes the flow of the water leads to a waterfall. Sometimes, it’s better to go against the flow – or maybe even avoid the flow completely. In this series, we’ll look at some of those situations, and give you our thoughts behind why it might be good to fade the public trend and look for other opportunities.

As the NFL season heads into the final quarter, the strengths and weaknesses of the teams are well established. Playoff teams turn it up a notch in hopes of a home game or even a bye week. Non-playoff teams start playing younger players to get a jump on next season. Injuries start to play a factor as well. Public money tends to follow the teams that will ‘most likely win’ and the strategy of fading the public becomes more about picking a team who might upset or cover.

Some of the biggest public favorites include Houston over the Jets and Seattle over the 49ers. But making a case for the Jets or the 49ers to pull off an upset are thin at best. The teams below may have a smaller public following, but represent ‘better’ chances to swing the other way.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Public Trend – 61% of the public bets favor New England

The Steelers have dropped three in a row and are coming off an embarrassing 24-21 loss to the Raiders who are just 3-10 on the season. They are just 3-3 at home against the spread and are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games. The Patriots are averaging 28 points and 397 yards per game. They are 7-3 against the spread this season, and still have a chance to secure a first round bye in the playoffs if they can hold on to the #2 seed. Tom Brady is coming off a 358 yard, three touchdown game against Miami, where the Dolphins won on a crazy desperation final play. James Conner is still not practicing for the Steelers, so they’ll be turning to Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley again this week.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

Both teams need this win, but the Steelers need it more as they lead Baltimore by just a half game. The Steelers also average 28 points per game but their defense is giving up only 330 yards per game compared to New England’s 372 yards per game. The Patriots are 6-0 at home this year but only 3-4 on the road (3-4 ATS as well). The Steelers may be using a committee at running back this week, but the Patriots gave up 255 yards from scrimmage to Frank Gore, Brandon Boldin and Kenyan Drake last week so they should still have success running the ball. Pittsburgh always seems to rise or fall to the level of their opponent, especially at home in a key matchup. As a three point underdog at home this week, they look like an attractive contrary play against the crowd.

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Public Trend – 59% of the public bets favor Miami

The Dolphins pulled off a big upset of New England and the Vikings were squashed on Monday night by the Seahawks. The Vikings struggled on both sides of the ball with less than 300 yards of total offense and didn’t score until the final two minutes of the game. The Dolphins are 4-1 against the spread over their last five games and the Vikings are 0-4 ATS this season against teams with a winning record. The Vikings average over 22 points per game, but Miami averages about a point less and they are getting more than a touchdown of spread against the Vikings who are on a short week.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

The Dolphins may be 7-6 this year, but average more than four points per game less than their opponents (278 PF vs. 333 PA) and are just 1-5 on the road. They are also 2-9 ATS in their last 11 road games, while the Vikings are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 home games against teams with a winning record. The Vikings defense is ranked 5th in the league, allowing just 323 yards per game. The Dolphins beat the Patriots last week, but only because the Patriots broke down on defense. As mentioned above, Tom Brady torched them through the air. The Vikings have a significantly better defense, and need this win to have a chance at a wild card spot. Even spotting Miami a touchdown, they have a strong chance to cover in this game.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT ATLANTA FALCONS

Public Trend – 59% of the public bets favor Arizona

The Falcons head into their final home game this season, facing the Cardinals who are just 1-4 in their last five games and are 2-4 on the road this season. The Cardinals have the worst offense in the league, averaging less than 14 points and only 242 yards per game. They managed to score only three points at home last week against the Lions and gave up a touchdown on the next series. The Falcons are averaging more than 24 points and 375 yards per game on offense. Their season has been a disappointment for sure, but a weak Arizona defense traveling east is the perfect way for them to close out the season for their fans.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

The Cardinals are terrible, but Vegas is giving them a 10 point spot right now. They are 5-4 against the spread this season, 3-2 ATS on the road and 5-1-1 ATS against the NFC. The Falcons are just 2-8 ATS for the season, 1-4 ATS in their last five NFC games and 1-5 ATS in their last six home games. Their defense is giving up over 28 points per game and the team is actually on a five game losing streak. While the Cardinals may be terrible on offense, the Atlanta defense doesn’t scare anyone and with a two score lead before the game starts, the Cardinals have a decent chance to cover in this game if they can score any points.

* graphics and numbers are from covers.com.