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Fading the Public has Been Massively Profitable in the NFL This Season

Fading the Public 101 Patrick Mahomes Chiefs

You typically hear that fading the public (contrarian betting) is an easy way to not lose money betting on the NFL. But is it? This season, the answer is a resounding YES. Publicly chosen sides have gone an abysmal 60-85-3 ATS (41.4 percent) and the top five most heavily backed teams each week have gone 23-27 ATS (46 percent).

In the last two weeks alone, the five most publicly backed teams have gone 2-8 ATS and a shocking 2-8 SU, with the Seahawks (-5) in Week 9 and the Ravens (-10) in Week 10 the only ATS winners.

The game that prompted this article was the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 10 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. KC has been one of the most heavily bet teams this season and their game against Tennessee was no exception. By the time markets closed, 69 percent of all recorded spread bets were on the Chiefs and the freshly activated Patrick Mahomes. KC went on to lose outright (35-32) after Ryan Tannehill led a miraculous game-winning drive.

Given this result and the overall trend of publicly backed teams failing to cover this season, we figured that public teams with more heavily skewed ratios (60 percent of bets or more) would be an even greater betting spot. Wrong. Sides meeting this criterion have gone a perfectly dull 16-16 ATS this season. 

This means that the most profitable spot for fading the public this season has been to go the opposite way of teams getting between 50 and 60 percent of bets. If you’d bet $100 on every side in this spot this season, you’d be up about $2,500 in profit.

Why are Publicly Backed Teams Failing to Cover?

Although there is no data to give a precise answer, you can infer that this unfavorable trend occurs when the betting public puts their money on big storylines and popular teams despite a bad number. Looking back at Week 10, reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes was making his triumphant return for a juggernaut Chiefs team against Ryan Tannehill and an unimpressive 4-5 Titans team. Easy cover at -5.5 for the road team, right? Nope. Closing out games in the NFL is not easy and the Chiefs proved that on Sunday. Bettors can take some solace in the fact KC wouldn’t have covered even if Tannehill hadn’t taken the Titans all the way down the field for a game-winning touchdown.

Another reason why the public is losing this season is that, generally speaking, they like to bet favorites, and as we know, underdogs are having quite a season. Through 10 weeks of the 2019 season, favorites are 62-83-3 ATS (42.7 percent). For this season at least, it’s definitely paying off to bet the underdog.

Should You Blindly Fade the Public?

No. Consensus data is simply a tool to utilize before placing a wager. It’s no surprise that the 2-7 Miami Dolphins are one of the more popular teams to bet against this season. That said, they are a respectable 5-4 ATS this season and have cost bettors BIG the last two weeks, beating the Jets and Colts outright.

Use consensus data as an added element to your handicapping. If you are making five NFL bets each week and all five happen to be favorites or publicly backed sides, consider taking a step back and re-evaluating why you like each side and what motivated you to lean in that direction in the first place.

Where to Find Public Betting Information

Each week, you can see where the money is going on the Odds Shark consensus page and not just for the NFL. You can find this information for every sport Odds Shark covers. Although it’s still early in the week, one of the more popular bets is looking to be the Patriots (-3.5) at the Eagles with 63 percent of bets coming in on New England to cover the spread.

Remember, the books look to exploit bettors’ tendencies and those tendencies are betting favorites and OVERs. Consider this the next time you place a wager.