Last week was a perfect example of why I love the Public Action Report. First, the record — a solid 3-1 ATS mark to bring the season mark to 19-14 ATS. That’s nicely profitable. More significantly, though, all three of those teams that covered — the Browns, Seahawks and Tulane — were outright winners as underdogs, and Tulane won as 17.5-point underdogs. Again we keep spotting these underdog winners that can be useful in so many different ways for creative bettors.
Briefly, let’s visit the criteria again. Typically, when we see lopsided betting action on a game — a heavy percentage of bets being on one team over the other — we would expect the odds to move to make the more popular team less attractive. That way the books can help to balance their action and minimize their risk on the game. Sometimes, though, we will see the opposite happen — despite heavy attention the odds move to make the popular team even more attractive.
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When the books do that there are typically two things that could be happen. It could be that a small number of big-money bettors — typically professionals — are betting heavily on the less-popular team. The number of bets could be tilted towards one team, but the amount bet could be significantly towards the other team. The other possibility is that the books have knowledge or insight that leads them not to fear the lopsided action and they move the lines to encourage it. In either case, the line movement is a good indicator that the less-popular team is worth a close look. It’s those less-popular teams with unexpected line movement that we are on the lookout for here.
This week we are back in action in a big way — six college football games, and two more from the NFL:
Minnesota (+16.5) at Wisconsin (Saturday, Oct. 20, noon ET)
This line opened at 17.5 but has since fallen to 16.5. Wisconsin has attracted almost three-quarters of the bets, so that means that Minnesota is worth a close look. Wisconsin has played better recently, but the Badgers still have issues on both sides of the ball. They are just 3-4 ATS, and this is a lot of points for them to give away.
Temple (+4) vs. Rutgers (Saturday, Oct. 20, noon ET)
More than three-quarters of bets have been placed on unbeaten Rutgers, yet the line has fallen from five to four. That means we should look at Temple. The Scarlet Knights record is deceptive because they haven’t really played anyone of note, so the public is giving them more credit than they deserve in this one.
Virginia Tech (+8) at Clemson (Saturday, Oct. 20, noon ET)
More than 70 percent of bets have been on Clemson at home, yet the line has dropped from 9.5 to eight. That means Virginia Tech is our team here. The Hokies have struggled this year, but they played well last week and the Tigers could be lethargic early on after a week off.
Western Michigan (+3) at Kent (Saturday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Nearly 80 percent of bets have been on Kent State, yet the line has fallen from 3.5 to the key number of three. A move involving a key number is particularly interesting, so Western Michigan is worthy of our attention. The Broncos lost in overtime last week, but they have essentially covered three of their last four spreads in regulation. They are tough. The Flashes, meanwhile, aren’t as strong as their 5-1 record suggests because their schedule has been very weak.
South Florida (+5.5) at Louisville (Saturday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Three-quarters of bets have been on Louisville, yet the line has tumbled from eight, through the key number of seven, to 5.5. That means South Florida gets our attention. Louisville is the best team in the Big East, but at 3-3 ATS the Cardinals are not a great betting team. After three straight road games they could be a bit complacent at home.
Buffalo (+9) vs. Pittsburgh (Saturday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET)
More than three-quarters of bets have been on Pittsburgh, but the line has dropped from 11 to 9, so Buffalo gets our focus. The Bulls are at home after three on the road, and they were 2-1 ATS over that stretch. Pitt has been very underwhelming this year, and trusting the Panthers with a big line against a decent team on the road seems like a poor idea.
St. Louis (+5) vs. Green Bay (Sunday, Oct. 21, 1 p.m. ET)
More than 85 percent of bets have been on the Packers, yet the line has dropped from 5.5 to five. Though it’s not a significant move, it still matters because Green Bay has drawn so much attention. St. Louis is our choice here. The Packers were brilliant last week, but it was really the first time all year, so they can’t yet be trusted to deliver. St. Louis, meanwhile, has covered five of six spreads, including all three at home, and has treated bettors well.
Tampa Bay (+2) vs. New Orleans (Sunday, Oct. 21, 1 p.m. ET)
Three-quarters of bets have been on the Saints, yet the line has dropped from the key number of three to two. Tampa Bay gets the attention in this one as a result. The Saints have not handled distractions well, and the Jonathan Vilma situation this week promises to be another distraction. That makes them hard to trust. Tampa Bay is a strong 4-1 ATS this year, so the Bucs have treated bettors well.
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