Football Betting: Friday Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 11/14/2008
It was a very good weekend for the Public Action Report last weekend - we looked at three games, and in all three games the team with comparatively little betting action covered the spread. That's what we are looking for. Let's see if we can keep the streak alive. There is one NFL game and two college games that fit our criteria.
Connecticut (-10) at Syracuse (Saturday, Nov. 15, 7:00 pm ET) - Three quarters of all bets have been on Connecticut, yet the line has dropped from the opening 10.5 to the key number of 10. That means that Syracuse is worth at least a look at this number. At first glance that is somewhat surprising - the Orange have been terrible, and their coaching situation is in flux and has to be a distraction. They have a recent bright spot, though - their last home game was a win over Louisville as 11-point underdogs. Connecticut looks like they are having a strong year at 6-3. Things haven't been so rosy for the last month, though. They have just one win in their last four games. Their last loss against West Virginia essentially knocked them out of the running for the Big East title. That disappointment coupled with a long list of injuries could be enough to affect UConn's focus enough to allow Syracuse to cover. No matter what happens, though, one thing is certain - this would be a far better basketball game between these two schools than it will be for football.
UCLA (-7) at Washington (Saturday, Nov. 15, 10:15 pm ET) - Seventy-five percent of bets have been on UCLA. That means that three quarters of bettors have been scared off by the truly awful Huskies. That's not surprising - they have yet to win, they have covered just once, they have a lame duck coach, and their star quarterback is the biggest name on a long list of injuries. What is surprising, though, is that the line movement suggests that we should have a look at those Huskies. The game opened at 7.5, and has dropped to the key number of seven despite the overwhelming preference bettors have for the Bruins. There is only one real reason to like the Huskies here - pride. They haven't shown a lot so far this year, but this is the last home game of the year and for their seniors, so perhaps they will be sufficiently motivated to put forth a worthwhile effort. Pride may also inspire them to rise up to their best against former coach Rick Neuheisel. That's not much to go on, so let's instead look at UCLA for reasons not to believe in them. The Bruins are winless on the road this year. They have lost their last two, and it wouldn't be hard to make the argument that they quit last weekend against Oregon State. The first season under their new coach started with such promise, but it has been mostly disappointing since. A road game against a lousy team in front of an empty stadium with nothing on the line could be an ideal place for this team to put up a less than ideal effort.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, Nov. 16, 4:15 pm ET) - Coming into the season it didn't seem likely that Tennessee would be the last undefeated team standing - especially after they lost their starting QB in a storyline straight out of a soap opera. Somehow, though, they are. And the public seems to think that they will be able to keep it up. More than three quarters of all bets made have been on the Titans. That makes the line movement unexpected - it has fallen from opening on the key number of three to 2.5 in many places. It often takes a whole lot to move a game off of that number, so it seems particularly meaningful that this one is moving in the direction it is. That means that Jacksonville is worth a look here. Though the public largely doesn't buy into it, it's not that hard to make a case that Tennessee could finally lose here. They are a good team, with a very good defense, but they seem to be overachieving. They have won a lot of close games, and sooner or later they aren't going to be able to pull of a miracle. Jacksonville has been a major disappointment all year, but their sleeping offense finally woke up last week. That big performance, even if it came against Detroit, could be enough to give this team the confidence to live up to their potential. If you had been forced to set the line on this game before the season started, the Jaguars would have been favored by more than the home field advantage. Things have changed, but the line movement suggests that Jacksonville deserves more credit than this line gives them.