Last week I introduced you to the concept of “Sharps” and “Squares”. As a quick reminder, Sharps are professional gamblers who usually look for value bets even when conventional wisdom might tell you to do otherwise; Squares are casual gamblers who follow conventional wisdom like betting favorites and overs. This week, however, provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about something that doesn’t get spoken about a lot mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t happen very often, and that is: The Public Dog.
While it’s a straight forward term, there are some implications behind it. If you ever hear anyone talking about a “Public Dog,” it means they’re talking about a team who is an underdog who is also receiving a majority of the bets and/or money from Squares (like I said… pretty straight forward). The implication behind this is a bit more convoluted. As we’ve well established, Squares usually bet on favorites, so why would there ever be a situation in which the underdog is receiving a majority of the public’s confidence? It could be that Vegas has published a line that simply doesn’t make sense. For example, imagine a team with a winning record, and on a three game win streak, being an underdog on the road to a team who’s lost two in a row; another example is two teams with similar records but one is favored by almost a touchdown. Each of these scenarios leave the better feeling a bit queasy.
The bettor feels queasy because the line Vegas published seemingly contradicts conventional wisdom, and so a bettor might say to him/herself “HA! Vegas has outsmarted themselves! No way this seemingly great team should be an underdog! I will take the points!” And then of course, after the game, the bettor quickly realizes they were very, very, very wrong.
Except in the case of Week 10 of the 2019 NFL season, in which if you found yourself as a casual gambler masquerading as a Sharp and decided to bet on a few underdogs, you actually won.
KC Chiefs (-5.5) @ TEN Titans – 77% Public Bet
This is a CLASSIC Square bet (hand up I may have had them in a ML parlay, and this is why you don’t do those things). The line opened up at -3 given that Patrick Mahomes’ was questionable going into the game. As soon as he was listed as Active and expected to play, the line shot up to -6, ultimately closing at -5.5. With Patrick Mahomes back and Ryan Tannenhill still an unproven quarterback, how could one NOT lay the points given it was less than a touchdown.
Taking a look back at the game, you can start to see how the gameplan unfolded, and it starts with Derrick Henry. The Chiefs have the 2nd worst run defense in the entire league, giving up 148 yards/game on the ground, and the Titans decided to exploit that by giving Derrick Henry the majority of the offensive plays (23 carries as opposed to only 19 pass attempts), and shredded that defense for 188 yards (8.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, even with time of possession favoring the Chiefs (~38 min: ~22 min). The Chiefs are clearly a better team, but even seemingly “better” teams can lose on any given Sunday in the NFL.
CAR Panthers @ GB Packers (-5) – 66% Public Bet
This is a good game to point to regarding early/late lines depending on how you’re trying to play the action. The line opened up at Packers -7 and eventually closed at Packers -5 (indication of early money on the Panthers). Now the Packers ended up winning 24-16 so regardless of when you picked them, you still won your bet. However, Ron Rivera’s failed two-point conversion had massive implications after the touchdown at the 12 minute mark in the 4th quarter. Had it been successful, the Packers would have won 24-18 in which any early Panthers +7 bets would have cashed, and instead… they died a painful death.
This was also our first snow game of the 2019 NFL season and everyone went a little crazy because of it, but it didn’t really seem to impact play calling. Kyle Allen still threw the ball over forty times while Christian McCaffrey was only given twenty carries. Interestingly enough, there was much more balance on the other side of the field as Aaron Rodgers had 29 passing attempts while he handed it off to either Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams a combined 26 times.
Regardless of what side you were on, you were probably breathing a little heavy the entire way, and frankly it’s probably best not to read too much into it given the snow and the coin flip it ended up being.
BAL Ravens (-10.5) @ CIN Bengals – 65% Public Bet
I’m going to be straight with you. If you bet on the Bengals thinking you were trying to be “cute,” then you only have yourself to blame. Sometimes there are actually games that are slam dunks and this was one of them.
MIA Dolphins (+11) @ IND Colts – 65% Public Bet
Let’s talk about our first public dog! The line opened at 15.5 and dropped very quickly to 10.5, eventually closing at 11. In an upcoming Sports Betting U piece, I’ll talk about how lines are affected beyond just the numbers, but for now let’s just talk about this line. Clearly Sharps were saw incredible value at a team that has shown life, up against a shaky defense, questions at quarterback, and were given over two touchdowns in a league that averages less than double digits in most outcomes. Beyond the normal value, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize why the line dropped even more so when Brian Hoyer was named as the starting QB. If you don’t remember, Brian Hoyer is notorious for his Pick Sixes, and even against a team that is actively tanking, he just couldn’t help himself from throwing three interceptions.
I’m actually surprised more Squares didn’t purchase the Dolphins even with the steep drop in the line since they were still given a double digit spread, but hey that’s why they’re squarest of Squares. Still though, it looks like the Public was smart enough to sniff out value when it came along, and credit is given where credit is due.
ARI Cardinals (+5.5) @ TB Buccaneers – 62% Public Bet
What does one do with a game like this? Jameis Winston is as erratic as a toddler on caffeine pills and Kyler Murray is still a rookie with a horrible defense behind him. We can see this wasn’t an heavy Public Dog, and I’m not surprised. With the Buccaneers holding the best rush defense in the league (wait… what?), I too would have probably bet on them since they were playing at home and facing a rookie even quarterback.
However, we forget that the Buccaneers also hold the WORST passing defense in the league (that makes a lot more sense), and with Jamies Winston being as unpredictable as a guy named Kyle who’s shotgunned multiple MONSTER tallboys at 1am, I can also understand why the Public felt there was value at 5.5.
Would you look at that? After the Public had an awful week last week, it looks like they took the cake this week. I’m sure Vegas is very sad, except for the fact that all this will do is increase the action next week when the Squares will eventually lose everything all over again.
Always remember, Vegas is definitely smarter than you.