Fade the Public Betting Trends Week 16

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.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS

Public Trend – 68% of the public bets favor Miami

The Jaguars are 1-9 in their last 10 games, and 1-7 against the spread. They are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five road games. They’ve scored just 28 points total in their last three games and have just one offensive touchdown over that same stretch. Cody Kessler had just 57 yards passing and an interception last week. They are averaging less than 17 points per game for the season. Miami is 6-1 at home and are 8-6 against the spread for the season. They are 4-0 ATS against teams from the AFC. They are averaging more than 21 points per game and are still in the playoff hunt while Jacksonville has a shot at the #1 overall pick.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

Miami’s is coming off an embarrassing 41-17 blowout against the Vikings where Ryan Tannehill had just 108 passing yards for the game. If you take away Kalen Ballage’s 75 yard Touchdown run in the third quarter, the Dolphins had just 81 rushing yards the rest of the game. Although the Miami defense is better than Jacksonville, their defense is much worse – averaging almost 27 points allowed per game compared to Jacksonville giving up just over 20. The Dolphins will be without Frank Gore in this game as well, and it will be questionable how they will score against Jacksonville. This game will be basically unwatchable and neither offense will do much. The fact that Jacksonville is getting four points instead of three makes this an interesting game to consider the Jaguars as a team who can cover, or outright win.

CINCINNATI BENGALS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS

Public Trend – 59% of the public bets favor the Bengals.

The line on this game has moved significantly in favor of the Bengals and they are 4-2 against the spread on the road. The Bengals average more than 24 points per game while Cleveland averages almost 25 points per game allowed. Cincinnati is coming off a big home win against Oakland where they scored the most points that they have since week eight. Cleveland averages just 22 points per game, two less than the Bengals, but they are spotting the Bengals 10 points. The Bengals are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against teams with a losing record.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

Cleveland is 4-1 in their last five games. They are 6-4 against the spread in their last ten games and 5-2 ATS when playing at home. The Bengals may have more PF than Cleveland for the season, yet their offense is ranked 25th in the league, averaging just 326 yards of offense per game. The Bengals are ranked dead last in defense, allowing 413 yards and almost 30 points per game. This is Cleveland’s last home game in their turn around season and their playoff hopes are still alive. The spread is pretty big, but expect the Browns to come out hard against a bad team. The city of Cleveland is 100% behind the Browns and a big 10+ point win over a division and state rival will be a great Christmas present for them.

WASHINGTON AT TENNESSEE TITANS

Public Trend – 67% of the public bets favor Washington

Washington’s playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread, and they are coming off a last second win against Jacksonville last week. Josh Johnson only had 151 yards passing, but he did not have an interception and added almost 50 yards on the ground for Washington. They are 6-4 against the spread this season, and 4-3 ATS on the road. The Titans average just 19 points and only 317 yards of offense per game. Despite their win against the Giants last week, Marcus Mariota had just 88 yards passing and zero touchdowns. The Titans are just 5-5 in the last 10 games against the spread and are 1-7-1 ATS in their last nine games in week 16. Spotting Washington 10 points is going to be difficult to overcome, especially when the over/under is only 37 for this game.

Why you may want to fade the trend.

The Titans defense is one of the best in the league, allowing just 18 points (#2) and 329 yards (#8) per game. They are 5-1 at home this season and 4-2 against the spread. Their offense has been on fire as of late, averaging more than 24 points per game over their last three games. Derrick Henry is a big part of that, with 408 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns over his last two games. Washington’s run defense has allowed 4.6 yards per carry for the season (20th in the league) and they have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns (16th) this season. Look for the Titans to grind the clock with a lot of running behind Henry and their defense to pressure the heck out of Josh Johnson – a quarter back who is starting his second game since 2011.

* graphics and numbers are from covers.com.