This weekend in the NFL features both the fewest games we have seen on a weekend all season and the most important and most scrutinized games of the year. That combination ensures that public betting action will be intense. That, in turn, means that it's definitely worth our while to check in on just how the public is betting on the two games so far and consider what impact that could have on how we bet the games:
Green Bay at Atlanta, Sunday 3:05 p.m. ET
The game opened with Atlanta favored by four points at home. It didn't stay there for long, though. Within 24 hours of being posted it was on the move, first hitting 4.5 points and then moving to five, where it currently sits in most spots . More than two-thirds of bets have come in on the Packers so far, so the line movement making Green Bay more attractive is a clear indication that sharp money has been hitting Atlanta out of the gate. Green Bay is clearly the more public team here, so it isn't surprising that the public and the sharps haven't been in agreement early on.
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The teams have been remarkably similar for bettors during the season. Atlanta was 10-6 ATS, which was tied for third best in the league. Green Bay was only barely behind at 9-6-1 ATS. They have both been perfect through the playoffs - Green Bay is 2-0 ATS, and Atlanta is 1-0 ATS.
This game is a rematch of a Week 8 showdown between the squads. Atlanta won that tight battle at home by a 33-32 score. Green Bay was a three-point underdog, though, so they covered the spread. The game easily went "over" the total of 51.
The game total opened at 59.5 but was very quickly on the move. It hit 60, moved widely to 60.5, and is now even starting to be found at 61. That's an important number. This is already the highest total in playoff history, and only once since 2000 have we seen a total of 61. There is a chance for this to be a record-setting game. It makes sense that people are optimistic about the offense here - both teams are red hot with the ball, and neither defense is particularly stellar. The public loves offense, so it is not surprising that the over is the favored side here.
Pittsburgh at New England, Sunday 6:40 p.m. ET
This is an interesting game because Pittsburgh is one of the more public teams in the league, but one of the few teams that eclipse their support is New England. This is going to be a very popular betting game.
This game opened with New England favored by six points at home. That moved down to 5.5 in early action but has since rebounded back to six points again. Almost 60 percent of bets have been placed on New England in this one, so the early line movement suggested that sharp money hit Pittsburgh out of the gate. That wasn't an enthusiastic or sustained idea, though, because the move back to six points suggests that the public action has at least matched the sharp action now. If anything we could see some slight further upwards movement, but barring any news it's very unlikely that the line would touch the key number of seven, so what we see is pretty close to what we will get.
This game is also a rematch of a regular season showdown. The Week 7 contest was in Pittsburgh, but New England was favored by 7.5. The Patriots were fine with giving up that many points, though, because their 27-16 win was still enough to comfortably cover. The game went "under" the total of 49.
The total opened at 51 and very quickly moved to 50.5, where it currently sits. There will likely be more downward pressure, though significant movement is unlikely without significant news.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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