It was only an average week for the Public Action report in the opener. After all the dust settled we ended up at 4-4 ATS. Despite that, though, the week showed another major area of potential for this report. Three of the four teams that covered also won outright as underdogs.
Tampa Bay was a 2.5-point dog to Carolina, Oregon State was given 6.5 against Wisconsin, and Arizona was a significant 10-point dog against Oklahoma State.
While betting all eight games against the spread would have produced a small loss because of the juice, betting the games on the moneyline would have led to a solid profit. Outright underdog winners are not an infrequent occurrence in this report.
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Because it’s only the second week of the season I’ll give a very quick refresher of what we are looking for here. Typically, when we see a large majority of bets — 70 percent or more — on one team we would expect the line for that team to move to make them less attractive for bettors. Sportsbooks don’t like to take big risks, so they will try to move the lines to balance the action.
What we are looking for, though, are situations in which the action is lopsided, but the line move actually makes the popular team more attractive. When that happens we know one of two things is happening — either a small number of smart bettors who are much better prepared than the general betting public are heavily backing the less-popular team, or for some reason the sports books are comfortable with their exposure and don’t fear adding more, either.
It doesn’t matter which is the case, because both are pretty good indicators that the less popular teams are worth close attention.
This week there are five games of note:
North Carolina (+3) at Louisville (Saturday, Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The line here opened at four, moved as high as 4.5 quickly, but then it dropped to the key number of three where it sits now. Louisville has drawn seven out of every 10 bets in this one, so that line movement is significant, and it points us to North Carolina. Louisville has yet to be significantly tested this year, so the enthusiasm about them and young QB Teddy Bridgewater could be premature. North Carolina isn’t an elite team, but they still have some talent that is worthy of respect. They could keep this one close.
Kansas (+20.5) vs. TCU (Saturday, Sept. 15, 12 p.m. ET)
The line here opened at 22, but quickly fell through the key number of 21 to 20.5. TCU has drawn the support of 80 percent of bettors in their debut in the Big 12. This movement indicates, though, that Kansas is the team to look at. TCU has played a weak schedule to start, and Kansas isn’t as bad as you might expect a Charlie Weis team to be, so backing the Jayhawks at these odds could make sense.
Western Michigan (+2.5) at Minnesota (Saturday, Sept. 15, 12 p.m. ET)
This line opened as high as four, but it was opened at the key number of three at most books. It has since fallen to 2.5 despite the fact that Minnesota has drawn nearly three-quarters of the bets. That means that the Broncos are our team here. Minnesota just barely escaped with a win against UNLV, and Western Michigan is a much better team than the Rebels, so this play makes sense.
Jacksonville (+7) vs. Houston (Sunday, Sept. 16, 1 p.m. ET)
Houston is seen as a legitimate AFC contender, so this line movement is surprising. The game opened at as high as nine points, but has now fallen to the key number of seven. That movement has happened despite the support of 85 percent of bettors for the Texans. Jacksonville was flawed but feisty in their opener. Houston, on the other hand, only beat up on a lousy Miami team so it’s easy to see how it could be perceived that the line was too high here. Jacksonville is worth a look.
Seattle (+3) vs. Dallas (Sunday, Sept. 16. 4 p.m. ET)
This line opened at four points, but it fell very quickly to three, where it sits now. Given that more than 85 percent of bets have been placed on the Cowboys this line movement is a clear indicator that Seattle is worth a look. This is the second straight road game for the Cowboys, and it could be tough on them. Russell Wilson came up short in his debut, but he showed a lot of promise and could be more comfortable in comfortable surroundings at home.
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