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Thread: Contrarian NFL Betting Strategy For Week 2

  1. #1 Contrarian NFL Betting Strategy For Week 2 
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    Contrarian NFL betting strategy for Week 2
    PJ Walsh

    Last week, we successfully took advantage of an entire summer's worth of NFL analysis to bet on undervalued teams perceived as "bad" by public and recreational bettors. Similar to how many bettors form opinions on teams based solely on offseason media reports, public bettors often overreact to only one week's worth of data, as well. Is Jared Goff actually good? Did the selection of Patrick Mahomes motivate Alex Smith to become John Elway? Is Eli Manning done?

    Could it all be true? Sure, but in reality, one game isn't enough to determine how good each NFL team is, even though public bettors will make wagers as if it is.

    For savvy contrarian bettors, this is another chance to let overreactions to very small sample sizes provide valuable wagering opportunities by pinpointing which games public bettors are hammering and taking advantage of the additional value this creates.

    To help unearth which NFL Week 2 games are offering value, I fired up our Bet Labs data analysis software and created a betting system with a 68.2 percent against the spread (ATS) win rate, plus-14.83 units won and a return on investment (ROI) of 33.7 percent that takes advantage of teams that underperformed in Week 1 and are being avoided by public bettors.

    The first step in this system is isolating NFL teams that lost straight up (as opposed to against the spread) in Week 1 games. This returned a record of 93-91, and while it is over 50 percent, it's not enough to surpass the 52.4 percent ATS win rate required to turn a profit. Next, I separated underdogs from favorites, which sent our system record skyrocketing to 57.5 percent ATS and a nice return of plus-13.61 units. To complete the system, I filtered out teams playing on the road, including only Week 2 home teams. That improved the ATS win rate even further, culminating in an ROI of 33.7 percent.

    Why does this work?

    Public bettors rely on the most recent results and data when making decisions on upcoming wagers. After spending an entire offseason forming opinions about teams based on everything except actual on-the-field performance, recreational players are quick to overreact and swiftly change their perceptions with only one game's worth of data.

    By focusing on teams coming off a Week 1 loss, we're able to find those teams that the public is already perceiving as "bad." Public bettors like playing favorites, so we're able to zero in even further on undervalued teams by looking only at underdogs that lost their previous game.

    With our system criteria in place, we're able to see that NFL teams do bounce back in terms of ATS performance when getting to reset after a Week 1 loss by practicing and preparing for a home game in Week 2.

    Week 2 system matches

    New England Patriots (-6.5) at New Orleans Saints

    Despite laying an egg in an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during Thursday's NFL kickoff game, bettors are coming back in droves to lay the points with the Patriots.

    In early betting, an incredible 88 percent of spread tickets are taking New England, making it the most popular public side at the time of publication. With New Orleans' flop against the Minnesota Vikings in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football, it's very reasonable to expect this one-sided betting to continue with that performance fresh in the mind of bettors.

    While the majority of the betting market is offering this game at +6.5, a handful of market-setting sportsbooks have moved to +7 for those willing to shop for the best line.

    The pick: Saints +6.5

    Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Indianapolis Colts

    Being a contrarian bettor often requires buying value with the worst teams in the league, and after getting throttled by the Los Angeles Rams, taking the Colts certainly qualifies as U-G-L-Y. Not surprisingly, public bettors want no part of Indianapolis in this matchup with only 18 percent of all spread tickets willing to back Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett or some combination of both.

    Indianapolis at +7.5 is the consensus around the betting market, as well as the current line at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and bettors courageous enough to back this play should be sure to lock in the hook in case sharp Colts money pushes the number down to +7 once limits increase later in the week.

    The pick: Colts +7.5

    Note: Lines are always subject to change, so make sure to check in at ESPN Chalk's Live NFL Odds page throughout the week for updated lines and public betting percentage data.
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