The 3 Most Popular NFL Bets for Week 7
Betting NFL games can be a blast. Whether you take the time to analyze each line and cash in big, or you do it for the fun -- share your bets with friends and tilt with one another in a group chat. Either way, having another layer of interest in your weekly football-watching is great. A lot of times, whether you like or not, you're not alone, either.
And that's where numberFire's oddsFire tool comes in. oddsFire breaks down the differences in betting odds, lines, and totals across a number of sportsbooks, but it also shows us what percentage of total bets and money is being laid on any line at FanDuel Sportsbook. Using oddsFire, you can then decide if you would like to align yourself with the betting public -- and enjoy the sweat together -- or go against the grain to capitalize on an over-hyped situation.
In this weekly article, we're here to dive into the three lines (one spread, one moneyline, one over/under) getting the most love, with the goal of deciding whether the numbers support or contradict the public's heavy investment.
Just last week the betting public was all over these same Green Bay Packers on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- and they lost their first game of the year in blowout fashion. This week, they are again away from Lambeau as they take on Deshaun Watson and the 1-5 Houston Texans as 3.5-point favorites.
This spread opened up at exactly a field goal, and since then 96% of bets and 97% of the money has been placed on Aaron Rodgers and company with the points. Apparently, the public isn't scared of a repeat of last week's performance, and on the surface that is certainly justified. In our up-to-date power rankings, Green Bay checks in at 11th while Houston resides in 23rd. Our Net Expected Points model also tells us that Green Bay's offense is a cool fourth overall, compared to a Houston defense that's all the way down at 30th. But the thing is, the Texans are eighth in offense behind a sixth-ranked passing attack, and they too square off with a bottom-four defense in the Packers.
So far, in their one-plus year under coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers are 15-8 against the spread, according to Killer Sports. They are also 10-6 when favored and 10-5 when favored by at least a field goal, yet they have covered in only two of the five games they have been favored on the road. They have lost by 8.8 points per game against an average line of 5.3 points in their favor. The Texans are under a new interim regime now, but since Watson fully took over at quarterback in 2018 Houston is 6-8 against a spread of three or more and has lost by only 1.1 points a game. Expect Houston to put up more of a fight than the public thinks.
At first glance, this trend is a head-scratcher to those who primarily base a team's ability on stability and talent. But even with Chicago's iffy quarterback play and unproven running game, they are 5-1 and atop the NFC North, riding the fourth-ranked defense to an overachieving start. At the same time, Sean McVay has the Los Angeles Rams at 4-2 in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year behind a subpar defense -- a defense that stands 12th so far in 2020.
This week, the difference is quite clear from what the oddsmakers have laid out. While the home Rams are favored by six on the spread and -270 on the moneyline, the Bears are up to +220 as what the majority of bettors see as a high-value play. In fact, 95% of bets and 97% of the money are on Chicago, suggesting no sharp money is on the Rams despite a big of reverse line movement -- from +213 at the open -- in the Rams' favor. What gives?
Under McVay, L.A. is 39-19 straight up, including a 17-9 on their home turf. They have impressively won 11 of 13 games in which they have been favored by six-plus at home, winning by an average of 8.7 points and taking their last three games that have fallen into that subset. On the flip side, Chicago is 25-14 in two-plus years under Matt Nagy, but they've gone just 0-2 in road games when they are getting six points (2-4 when getting three-plus). The intrigue is understandable given the odds, however, the Rams appear to be the wiser bet if trends prove true.
This matchup has so many notable wrinkles that it's hard to see the public being so confident in one side of the total. On one hand, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense has been great. They are seventh overall and third against the run, but they're going to be playing their first game without star linebacker Devin Bush. As for the Tennessee Titans, their offense is third in efficiency -- fifth via the pass and eighth via the run. But they too will be without one big piece in left tackle Taylor Lewan, and could potentially miss Jonnu Smith to boot. Smith suffered an ankle sprain but was limited in Wednesday's practice.
If you ask me the combination of those things are a wash in a vacuum. However, the Titans have to be concerned with replacing a three-time Pro Bowler with journeyman Ty Sambrailo, who allowed J.J. Watt to strip-sack Ryan Tannehill for a touchdown a week ago. The combination of brother T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree could have a day on the outside, and therefore limit the Titans' offense from producing 20-plus points.
It's also worth noting, though, that the Titans' defense is 20th in the league and 28th against the run specifically. Pittsburgh and their 10th-rated offense could pile up the points on their side and lead this one to the over, close or not. The sportsbooks, through a 1.5-point spread, expect it to remain quite close throughout, but even pace stats aren't so telling one way or another. Although Football Outsiders has Tennessee as the fourth-fastest offense, Pittsburgh is the second-slowest at more than four more seconds per play.
If you have to go one way, current behavior and past results give a bump to the under. There has been reverse line movement with sharp money -- 63% of the money compared to 81% of bets -- coming in on this one scoring no more than 50 points. And all but one of Pittsburgh's games have failed to reach that same threshold.