Each week throughout the NFL season, we’ll take a look at the three biggest public plays on the board and speculate what the public sees and why they are betting a particular side.
We’ll also be tracking these plays throughout the year to see how Joe Public is faring in the NFL.
Last Week: 1-2 ATS
Season: 8-7 ATS
* * *
RAIDERS @ FALCONS, 1 P.M. ET
Open: Atlanta -9.5
Current: Atlanta -10
Public Betting %: 75% on Atlanta
What they see: The Falcons haven’t lost yet, and they’re a league-best 4-1 against the spread, so why go against them?
Analysis: As we pointed out in our Week 6 NFL Survivor Pool update, “Oakland has a propensity for pulling off random upsets on the road. Since 2008, the Raiders have won outright seven times when catching a touchdown or more away from home.”
In the NFL, some handicappers love to play teams that are 1-3 because they say it’s a different level of desperation for early in the season. If you get to 2-3, you’re right back in it. If you fall to 1-4, your season’s pretty much cooked.
The one concern for Falcons bettors is that they’ve opened up such a huge lead in the NFC South. Every other team is 1-3 or worse, meaning it’ll be hard for the players to manufacture the week-to-week urgency that they’d have if they were in a tighter division race.
* * *
BENGALS @ BROWNS, 1 P.M. ET
Open: Cincinnati -3
Current: Cincinnati -2.5
Public Betting %: 69% on Cincinnati
What they see: Is it too early to say it’s a “must-win” game for the Bengals? They have this one to get to 4-2 before facing the Steelers, Broncos and Giants over the next few weeks.
Analysis: The Browns are 0-5, but they’ve actually been more and more competitive, evidenced by their 2-2-1 ATS record. Even last week, they jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead at the Giants before falling 41-27 (and failing to cover).
The point is, it’s not like this Cleveland team is a threat to go 0-16 like some bottom-feeders of the past.
But Andy Dalton virtually never loses to bad teams (aside from last week’s home loss to the Dolphins), as Cincinnati usually takes care of business in games it should win. It’s essentially how they sneaked into the playoffs last season.
* * *
PATRIOTS @ SEAHAWKS, 4:05 P.M. ET
Open: New England -4
Current: New England -4
Public Betting %: 75% on New England
What they see: The Patriots are rolling, and surprisingly they’re 4-1 against the spread despite having just a 3-2 overall record.
Analysis: It’s amazing how, no matter how many times we recognize that the Seahawks are a fantastic home team (especially as an underdog), we’ll continue to go against them.
Over the past 10 years, Seattle covers the spread more than 60 percent of the time at home and less than 40 percent of the time on the road. So far this year, the Seahawks have already knocked off Dallas and Green Bay as underdogs of a field goal or more.
They have the defense to slow down a potent New England offense, and the running game to keep opponents off the field. It’s not a guarantee by any means, but it’s too scary to lay any points against Seattle at home.