Public Chasing Their Way to Even in 2011

The weekly, nationally broadcast NFL games, like Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football, give sports bettors an opportunity to make up for losses incurred during the normal slate of Sunday afternoon games.

This process is often referred to as chasing, as the betting public is chasing games they normally wouldn’t bet in an attempt to get even on the week. As a result, sportsbooks see exponentially more action on these games and, since the public generally likes betting on favorites, this action is often one-sided, in terms of NFL spread betting trends.

Sports Insights deems games with 65% or more of spread bets on one side as lopsided enough to account for variance and conclude that the majority of public action is indeed betting one side of those games.

For the purpose of this article, we did not include Thursday Night Football games since the majority of the week’s games have yet to be played, so weekly chasing does not occur.

* Pinnacle’s closing lines were used to determine wins and losses against the spread.

2010 NFL Betting Against the Public Breakdown

In the table below, afternoon games represent all 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET games with 65% or more of spread wagers on one team. Chase games represent all Sunday and Monday night games with 65% or more of spread wagers on one team.

Game Type Record Win %
Afternoon 57-55 50.1%
Chase 6-9 40%
Overall 63-64 49.6%

As you can see, in 2010, the public won just above 50% when betting afternoon games. When factoring in the vig, a bettor must hit 52.4% of bets to break even (if assuming a normal -110 vig for all wagers).

Therefore, the public had a losing season when betting afternoon games and chased 15 national games in an attempt to make up for losses. When chasing, the public went 6-9 (40%), pulling their season win percentage down from 50.1% to 49.6%.

2011 NFL Betting Against the Public Breakdown

Game Type Record Win %
Afternoon 19-19 50.0%
Chase 3-1 75.0%
Overall 22-20 52.4%

Through five weeks of NFL games, the public has hit 50% of afternoon games, but is 3-1 when chasing, pushing the season win percentage to 52.4%.

Comparing 2010 to 2011

Season Afternoon % Chase % Overall %
2010 50.1% 40.0% 49.6%
2011 50.0% 75.0% 52.4%

So far, the winning percentage for afternoon games is mirroring the data from last season. But the overall difference is directly tied to how the public has done chasing.

The 40% win rate when chasing in 2010 pulled the overall winning percentage of the public under the 50% mark.

Conversely, the public’s 3-1 record in 2011 NFL chase games has pushed the record up from 50% to the break-even mark of 52.4%.


While chasing has been profitable for the public so far in 2011, the sample size is very small (only four games) and it’s reasonable to expect that number to drop towards the 2010 season level.

It may not fall all the way to 40%, but it’s safe to say it won’t finish the season at 75%.

We recommend treating the Sunday and Monday night games no differently than you would any other. If these games don’t fit into your NFL Betting System and wouldn’t be plays as 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. games, then they shouldn’t be as night games either.

Also, Sports Insights employs a one-unit per play money management system with each unit representing 1%-3% of your bankroll. This will help you weather the ups and downs you’re sure to experience over the course of an entire season while not leaving you overly-exposed on one game.

Have questions about this article or the week’s slate of College Football and NFL Games?

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Daniel Fabrizio

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