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Football Betting: Weekly Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 10/29/2010

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford

The good times keep rolling for the Public Action Report this year. Last week we had four games identified, and in three of them we were on the right side. More significantly, all three of those were upsets that paid handsomely on the money line - especially the surprising upset of West Virginia by Syracuse. Here’s hoping that the good times continue. This week we have six games - four in college football, and two more in the NFL.

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We’ll make the recap of what we are looking at brief this week. Typically, when the action is particularly one-sided in a game we would expect the odds for the popular team to get less attractive. Sometimes, though, we will see games when 70 percent or more of the bets are on one team yet the odds move to make that team more attractive.

That’s most likely a sign that smart money is on the less popular team, and that means that the less popular team is worth our attention. This year we have tightened up the criteria further - we are only in interested in games when the line movement is what we deem to be significant - typically involving a key number or a significant movement. Without further ado:

College Football

Stanford (-7) at Washington (Saturday, Oct. 30, 7 pm ET) - It’s no surprise that Stanford has drawn the lion’s share of bets in this one - more than 80 percent of bets made on this game. Despite that the line opened at 7.5 and has since settled in at the key number of seven. That’s a strong indicator that Washington is drawing solid smart money attention, and that they are worth a close look as a result. Washington hasn’t covered in their last three games, but then neither has Stanford. Washington has alternated wins and losses all season and they are coming off a loss, so superstitious bettors won’t have to look any further than that. I’ll stick to the line movement as a better indicator myself.

Miami of Ohio (-2.5) at Buffalo (Saturday, Oct. 30, 3:30 pm ET) - Any time a line moves unexpectedly off the key number of three I pay particular attention because books hate messing around with that number. That means that there has to be a lot of action on the less popular team to make it happen. Miami has drawn more than three-quarters of all bets in this game, yet the line opened at three and has dropped to 2.5. Buffalo deserves our look. Buffalo has struggled in the post-Turner Gill era, but Miami has been far from dominant, they are coming off a humiliating thrashing at the hands of rival Ohio, and Buffalo has covered the last four meetings between these two.

Cal (+2.5) at Oregon State (Saturday, Oct. 30, 3:30 pm ET) - Here’s another surprising move off the key number of three. Three out of four bets have been on the Beavers, yet the game opened at 3.5, has moved widely to three, and can even be found at 2.5. Books absolutely hate getting middled, so the fact that this line movement sets up the possibility of a middle on three is very significant. That means we should be paying close attention to the Bears. Cal has covered three of their last four games and is coming off a wildly impressive win against Arizona State, so they will have some swagger. Oregon State, on the other hand, will be very frustrated by their one-point loss to Washington last week that blew another big hole in what was once a promising season.

NFL

Washington Redskins (+3) at Detroit Lions (Sunday, Oct. 31, 1 pm ET) - The Redskins have drawn a large majority of the action here - more than 70 percent of bets. Despite that, the line opened with Washington just a one-point underdog and now they are taking as many as three points. That’s a significant move that points us to the Lions.

The attraction of the Lions has to be what they have done this year - they have covered in five of their six games. That shows that the betting public doesn’t have a good sense of how Detroit is really playing this year.

Washington plays a lot of close games, so if you are going to let the line movement guide you and bet on the Lions, then you’ll want to shop around - betting -2.5 is a lot more attractive than -3 is, and at least as I write this 2.5 is still widely available. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (+1) at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Oct. 31, 8 pm ET) - Big Ben and company have drawn about three-quarters of bets, yet the line on them has moved from -1 to +1. That points us to the Saints. New Orleans has been disappointing this year and they are coming off an inexplicable loss to Cleveland, but they have a lot of pride, and you have to expect them to come back strong in this one. This is the second straight road game for Pittsburgh, and they could be weary as a result.

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