It was a very strong week for the Public Action Report last week. Three of the four games we looked at turned out the way we thought - and opposite to how the vast majority of the public thought they would. That included Cincinnati’s near upset of Oklahoma and Chicago’s Monday night win over the Packers to become the last remaining undefeated team in the NFC.
This week there are four more games that meet the criteria. Quick reminder - we are looking for games in which the overwhelming majority of bets have been placed on one team, yet the line is moving in the opposite direction from what we would expect. That line movement suggests either that a small number of bettors are making big money bets on the less popular team - the so-called smart money - or that the books aren’t afraid of drawing even more action on the popular team. Either one of those scenarios mean that the less popular teams worth a close look. Without further ado:
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Michigan (-10) at Indiana (Saturday, Oct. 2, 3:30 pm ET) - The Wolverines, led by the stunning Denard Robinson, have been one of the biggest stories of the college football season so far. The public is taking note and buying in - they have drawn more than three-quarters of the bets in the game so far. Smart money doesn’t seem to be buying in to my favorite team, though - the line opened on the key number of 14 and has fallen all the way to 10. As good as Michigan has been, and as much as Indiana has struggled for a long time, there are some good reasons to be skeptical of the Wolverines. They started hot last year before crumbling when conference play started, so they have a lot to prove. They are also extremely reliant on their QB play, and with Robinson nursing a knee injury and Tate Forcier getting banged up in relief last game as well there is a good chance that things go go awry here. Indiana also has a pretty competent offense led by the accurate Ben Chappell, and though Michigan’s defense is improving it’s still a long way from good. This game has the makings of a shootout - like it was last year - and it’s tough to win a shootout by a wide margin. The numbers say that Indiana is worth a look.
Texas Tech (-7) at Iowa State (Saturday, Oct. 2, 7 pm ET) - Mike Leach is gone, but the public still loves the Red Raiders - they have drawn more than 80 percent of the bets against a team that almost no one cares about. Given that, it’s surprising and noteworthy that the line opened at 10 but has fallen to the key number of seven. That means that we should be paying attention to Iowa State. The likely cause for the skepticism about Texas Tech is the play of QB Taylor Potts - he is coming off the worst game of his career against Texas, and that could have lingering effects here.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, Oct. 3, 1 pm ET) - Seven out of 10 bets have been on the Falcons, yet the line opened on the key number of seven and has since fallen to 6.5. That means that we should be looking at the winless and so-far pathetic Niners. Though Atlanta has clearly been the better team so far, you can justify at least considering San Francisco because they just have to be better - much better - than they have been so far. They have all the tools on both sides of the ball to be good, and sooner or later it has to look like it. They are also heading into this game after having fired their offensive coordinator, and moves like that can often give a team a short-term boost. It’s not like the Falcons have been dominant this year, either - they have gone into overtime twice already, and they lost to an underwhelming Jacksonville team in their opener.
Chicago Bears (+4) at New York Giants (Sunday, Oct. 3, 8 pm ET) - Last week we picked the Bears to win, but these are fickle times, so this week it seems as if we should be looking at their opponents. The Bears have drawn 70 percent of the bets, yet the line opened at the key number of three and has moved higher. That means that the Giants are worth a look. The Bears are the last unbeaten team in their conference. However, they haven’t looked unbeatable, and they have covered the spread just three times in their last 11 road games. Therefore, the skepticism is understandable. The Giants have been lousy, but they are at home, and they have a defense that could be capable of confounding the fragile Jay Cutler. Eli Manning should also be very motivated after making an incredibly bone-headed play last time out.