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What Is The NFL Betting Public and Why Do I Care?

What Is The NFL Betting Public and Why Do I Care?
Last week we discussed the definition of an “NFL Sharp” and how their picks influence gambling lines. This week we’re exploring the opposite side, NFL public betting.

NFL Public Betting Explained

The term “public betting” just means which side the general public is betting on for any given game. Casual bettors (aka squares, aka average joes) tend to wager on popular NFL franchises, teams that often play in nationally-televised and primetime games, and teams with popular fantasy football players. They go with popular opinion and “their guts” rather than looking at statistical analysis.

Whichever team or side the public is betting on is called the “public pick.” Sometimes you’ll hear the term “consensus pick” thrown around. Don’t get confused, it’s essentially the same thing.

As you might have guessed, the NFL public pick tends to be whichever team is the consensus favorite. However, that isn’t always the case and sometimes the public pick is determined by a very thin margin.

Why Do I Care?

One popular strategy for NFL gamblers is simply betting against the public pick, commonly known as “fading the public.” This might seem too simplistic, however, the data shows that this strategy is profitable. After all, most bettors don’t really know what they’re doing and aren’t considering anything else than what they happen to see in last week’s highlights or what team is “hot” at the time.

Over the last eight NFL seasons, if you simply bet against the public in games where 75% of the public were on one side, you would’ve won over 53% of the time. During this same stretch, large underdogs were were even better bets. If you bet on a team that was a 7+ point underdog and 70% of the public were betting on the favorite, you won money 55% of the time.

That means you’re making money by only considering the spread and where the public is placing their money. Unless you’re some kind of savant, that’s a better winning percentage than just “going with your gut.”

With sports gambling becoming legalized in a greater number of areas, more and more average joes will be looking to try it out. What’s the first sport these newbies are going to bet on? Definitely football. The NFL is by far the most popular sports league and where most first-time gamblers place their first bets. Take advantage of their ignorance and bet against the masses.

How Do I Fade The Public?

As explained above, you don’t just need to know the public pick, but what percentage of the public is on that side. For example, if it’s only 51% of the public versus 75%, there are more factors you need to take into consideration.

Using tools to track the public bets, will help you stay on the right side of the money and keep FTP, fading the public. Again it’s not a data point to blindly take however the giant casinos and sportsbooks were built for a reason, the public is generally on the wrong side of the money. Don’t let the public side scare you away from a side you already like for other reasons, just keep it mind when placing those bets.

Editor for SGP Blog. Staffer at Late Late Show with James Corden. Miserable Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns fan. Degenerate DFS Player.

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