- Dave Tuley, ESPN Insider
Does anyone remember the "Schoolhouse Rock" song in which the little guy in the back shouts "Hurray, I'm for the other team!"? If not, here's the video (scroll to about two minutes in).
That's how I often feel when I'm watching the games in a sports book here in Las Vegas. While everyone else seems to be cheering for the favorites, I'm usually the one in the back pulling for the underdog or the less-popular team. It's kind of like being the "Don't Pass" player at the craps table.
That brings us to last week. I went 5-3 against the spread in this space, a very respectable 62.5 percent. But since it came on the heels of 9-4 (69.2 percent) and 8-1 (88.9 percent) records from the previous two weeks, some people asked whether I was disappointed to see my winning percentage drop.
On the contrary. To put it in perspective, last week the betting public got its revenge on the bookmakers after losing the first three weeks of the season. The LVH SuperContest -- which we are seeing as a barometer of the public, with more recreational players than ever in its record 745-player field -- had a 12-3 record against the spread from its consensus plays, with the top five most popular plays all covering.
As a contrarian bettor, that usually spells doom for me, so to not only crawl out of the rubble unscathed but to score a profitable weekend meant more to me than when all of the games fall my way.
Now, in this weekly exercise, we take a look at what the public is thinking with the Public Consensus Pick derived from data accumulated from multiple sports books (and the LVH SuperContest consensus, which is added on Saturday afternoon). Plus, I give the public and wiseguys' point of view, and then my take on each game.
Taking a glance at the consensus figures from the new ESPN PickCenter, which has lots of stats and score projections, shows that the Broncos are the only underdog the public is supporting. So I'll again be that little voice in the back of the room cheering (hopefully).
Last week: 5-3 ATS | Year-to-date: 22-8 ATS
Note: Consensus Pick percentages as of late Thursday night.
Current spread: Falcons minus-3
Public consensus pick: 63 percent picked Falcons
Public perception: The Cardinals' loss Thursday leaves the Falcons and Texans as the only undefeated teams heading into this weekend, and all three were getting support as road favorites.
Wiseguys' view: Some books on the Don Best screen are showing 80 percent of the action on the Falcons, but oddsmakers are reluctant to move off the key number of 3, which usually means they're afraid they'll get pounded with the underdog at plus-3.5.
Each week, Vegas insider Dave Tuley breaks down the lines and offers NFL pick recommendations against the spread, based on perceptions of public versus sharps betting trends. Here's the Week 5 action.