NFL Betting Against the Public 2003-10

  • In this article, we update our results for “Betting against the Public” and taking NFL underdogs.  Sports Insights’ (SI’s) philosophy of finding contrarian value in the sports marketplace continues to add value in the NFL and all major U.S. sports includes SI’s exclusive betting trends data, which goes back to the 2003 season.

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Sports Insights Database and NFL Research

Sports Insights (SI) has collected betting data for every major U.S. sport since the 2003 season. We collect the opening and closing lines (and “line movement,” for various sportsbooks) as well as final scores — and perhaps most importantly, SI’s proprietary NFL Betting Trends.

Our research team also “cleans” our data with various systematic techniques — as well as “by hand” — to ensure our historical data is useful for our research articles and our Members. SI’s historical database for each sport is an important part of our research and value-added for our Members. It is the backbone for our contrarian sports investing methods and you can’t find this kind of data and information anywhere else!  Sports Insights’ database for the NFL now includes over 2,100 games since 2003. For the purposes of this article, we include the playoffs, but exclude the preseason. Our database and contrarian methods are backed by tens of thousands of games across every major U.S. sport.

Betting Against the Public in the NFL

Similar to other sports, we present results for “Betting Against the Public” at different thresholds of betting percentage AND for home teams and visiting teams.

Table 1: Betting Against the Public (2003-2010 NFL Seasons)

Betting Percentage Home Team Visiting Team
< 40% 48.7% 54.4%
< 30% 50.6% 53.9%
< 25% 52.3% 52.7%
< 20% 54.5% 36.4% (few games)

Using the Table

  • In addition to overall “Bet Against” results, we have broken down how Betting Against the Public works for Home teams or Visitors.
  • For example, if a Home team has less than 20% of the public betting on them (Visitor has more than 80% of the public), this scenario resulted in a 54.2% winning percentage.
  • On the other hand, Visitors with less than 25% of the bets (more than 75% of bets on Home team), resulted in a 54.4% winning percentage.
  • Some members may try using Home teams at the 20% level and Visiting teams at the 30% level.
  • Note that the results are slightly better for visiting teams, suggesting that there is some value on NFL visiting teams.  Note that this is very moderate, but it is based on years of NFL results.

Take the Underdog?

Over the years, betting on underdogs has proven to be a good “value” play. We have seen academic studies that verify the bias towards underdogs in the NFL (as well as in other major sports). Below, we combine the premise of betting on an underdog with “betting against the public.” In particular, we studied taking underdogs getting at least 7 points, at various betting percentage thresholds. The results improve on a straight usage of “betting percentages.”

If you like the information in our articles, please check out our series of Sports Investing books for even more research and betting systems.

Table 2: Betting Against the Public on 7-Point or More Underdogs (2003-2010 NFL Seasons)

Betting Percentage Home Team Getting 7+ Points Visiting Team Getting 7+ Points
< 40% 54.6% 54.2%
< 30% 55.1% 53.7%
< 25% 53.7% 52.6%
< 20% 54.5% 33.3% (few games)

Members may want to focus on NFL underdogs of 7 points or more, at the 30% level.

Sports Insights Strategies 

Last year, Sports Insights NFL Square Plays won 55.4% and our popular NFL Marketwatch column won 55.2% of its selections. Sports Insights’ handicapping tools use many indicators such as betting percentages, line moves, and point spreads — to help our Members improve their odds of success. Premium Pro Members have access to analytical tools such as our NFL Smart Money Betting System (that breaks triggers down by sportsbook) as well as our NFL Best Bets Betting System, where we put it all together.

We do not guarantee that the trends and biases we have found will continue to exist. It is impossible to predict the future. Any serious academic research in the field of “market efficiencies” recognizes that inefficiencies may disappear over time. Once inefficiencies are discovered, it is only a matter of time before the market corrects itself.