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Football Betting: Weekly Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 11/12/2010

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Tampa Bay Quarterback Josh Freeman.

Last week was a very strange one for the Public Action Report - there was only one game that really fit the criteria. That’s far below expectations. I didn’t end up writing up the Report as a result of the lack of action. This week we’re back, and with lots of action.

First, a review. Typically when the action on a game is a long way from evenly distributed - like when more than 70 percent of football picks placed on one team - we would expect the line movement to make the popular team less attractive so that the action doesn’t get even more unbalanced for the books.

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Sometimes, though, that logical movement isn’t what we see. Sometimes, even though the action is unbalanced, the line move makes the popular team even more attractive. That’s what we are looking for here.

When the line movement is the opposite of what you would expect, it typically means that the smart money - a small number of high dollar, successful, intelligent professionals - is on the unpopular side. They aren’t going to be on a side with enough force to move the line against all of the public action unless they have a good reason to do so.

If they have a reason then, at the very least, we should look closer at that team as well. That means that the unpopular team is worth a close look.

The purpose of the Report isn’t to suggest games you should bet on blindly. It’s far more valuable as a way to spot games you might want to look closer at, and to change your mind on games you might have been thinking about betting. It has been particularly strong this year at spotting underdogs that win outright.

There are three games to look at this week - two in college football, and one in the NFL. All odds are from Bodog:

College Football

Cincinnati (+5.5) at West Virginia (Saturday, Nov. 13, 12 pm ET) - The most interesting college football line movement we look for in this report is when the line moves through the key numbers of three or seven. Books don’t like to move through those numbers because they risk being middled, so the action from the smart money has to be particularly intense to make the move.

That’s not the case here, but what we have here is the second most interesting movement -- when a line starts just below a key number and moves further away from it.

West Virginia opened as 6.5-point favorites, quickly dropped to 6.0, and can now be widely found at 5.5. That’s all despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of bets - nearly 85 percent - are on the Mountaineers. That’s a clear sign that the Bearcats are worth a close look here.

Army (+1) at Kent State (Saturday, Nov. 13, 2 pm ET) - This is one of those line moves through a key number that we are on the lookout for. Army started out favored by 3.5 in this one, but the line has fallen rapidly since then, and can find found as low as +1 for Army.

Army has drawn more than 70 percent of all bets placed, so this line is the opposite of what would be expected.

Kent State worth a close look here. Army hasn’t covered their last two, and Kent State has paid off their backers twice in the last three, so it could happen.

Stanford (+4.5) at Arizona State (Saturday, Nov. 13, 7:30 pm ET) - It’s no surprise that the Cardinal have drawn most of the action - nearly 90 percent of bets - here. They are riding high led by the quarterback likely to go No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft this year, and they are playing a team all but sure to fire their underachieving coach at the end of the year.

Given all that, though, this line movement is a real surprise. Stanford opened as seven-point favorites, but now they have fallen all the way to 4.5.

Given the heavy amount of action on Stanford, that indicates that smart money is being very aggressive on the home team here. That means that we should be looking at Arizona State, too.

Oklahoma State (-5) at Texas (Saturday, Nov. 13, 12 pm ET) - Here’s another one where the line moved away from a key number when we expected it to move through it based on the action.

The public has been heavily on the high-scoring, highly ranked Cowboys - more than 80 percent of bets - over the badly struggling Longhorns. Despite that, the line has fallen from 6.5 where it opened to 5.0 now.

That’s a clear sign that the smart money is on Texas, and we should be looking at them too. The important thing to remember in this one is that while Texas is struggling they are still Texas, and still playing at home.

NFL

Carolina Panthers (+6.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, Nov. 14, 1 pm ET) - The Bucs are perhaps the most surprising team in the whole league, so it’s no surprise that they are drawing most of the attention here - more than 80 percent of all bets. Despite that, the line opened at the key number of seven, and has fallen to 6.5, and even to 6.0 in some places. That shows that the Panthers are drawing smart money, and that they are worth a look here.

Tampa Bay is just 3-14 ATS in their last 17 at home, so it’s not that surprising that people would be skeptical of them in this spot at a big price - the biggest they have faced all year by a wide margin.

 

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