Updated: Dec 14, 2022
As technology advances within the sports betting industry, bettors have access to more tools and information than ever.
One of the more interesting stats being shared regularly today is how the general public is betting on each NFL game.
NFL consensus picks (often referred to as public money) can help a bettor understand how thousands of other bettors across the country view the same game and the same bets they are considering.
What Are NFL Consensus Picks?
When we are talking about Public Money or NFL Consensus Picks, we are referring to the Bet Percentage and Handle Percentage for every NFL game each week of the season.
If you want to know the percentage of total bets placed on the Kansas City Chiefs this week (Spreads, O/U, ML), then consensus picks data is for you.
This number tells us (as a %) how the bets are being divided up among both teams for every NFL game.
For example, if we had data from 10,000 bettors and 6,200 bet Buffalo to cover the -3.5 point spread at home vs. Miami, we know Buffalo has 62% of the Total Spread Bets.
Important to remember that when we add up the total bet percentage, the wager size is not factored into the data.
A $1 bet is equal to a $1,000 bet if both are on the same side.
The handle percentage is interesting because it doesn’t care how many total bets are placed on a team. Instead, it focuses only on the total amount of money bet on a team.
If $1.5 million was bet on the Miami vs. Buffalo point spread and $1M of that was bet on Buffalo to cover the spread, Buffalo has 66.66% of the total handle.
How To Understand NFL Consensus Picks
Once you understand the difference between Bet % and Handle %, understanding how to read the actual percentages is straightforward.
BetMGM – Week 14 Public Money Breakdown
|Teams||Current Spread||Bet %||Handle %|
Looking at the data provided by BetMGM above, we can see that 56% of the total bets were placed on the New England Patriots to cover the -1.5 point spread.
Looking at the Handle %, we can also see that 67% of the total money wagered on this point spread was put on the Patriots to cover.
How To Use NFL Consensus Picks For Betting
Fade The Public
There is a popular strategy called fading the public, which refers to using consensus pick data to help us bet against the overall opinion of the general public.
Sportsbooks are not in the habit of having many losing weeks during an NFL season. For this reason, there are a lot of bettors who like to go against public opinion.
When we are betting against the general public or fading the public money, we want to focus on the bet percentage of a particular game.
The bet percentage gives us the best idea of how the masses (not the sharp money) view a specific game.
|Teams||Current Spread||Bet %|
In our example above, the bet percentage is 65% for the Dallas Cowboys.
Therefore, if we wanted to fade the public money, we would be betting on the Eagles to cover the -3.5 points.
Follow The Sharp Money
Sports bettors have forever been divided into public and sharp bettors.
Obviously, those who are labeled sharp are known to be elite at sports betting, especially compared to the masses.
This explains why many bettors are always interested in following how the sharp bettors view a particular game or bet.
If we are a bettor who wants to try and track the sharp money, then we will focus more on Handle % than Bet %.
The sharp betting community usually bets significantly more money per bet than the recreational community.
When this happens, we can sometimes see a difference between the Bet % and Handle % that tips off which direction the sharp community is leaning.
|Teams||Current Spread||Bet %||Handle %|
Looking at the percentage breakdowns above, a bettor might be interested to see that the Philadelphia Eagles have a Handle % that is 20% higher than their Bet %.
20% represents a significant percentage and might suggest that although the general public is leaning toward the Cowboys, the sharp money is on the Eagles to cover the spread.
NFL Consensus Picks – Understanding The Data
When we are analyzing the Public Money data, it is important to understand how the point spread has been reacting as the bets have been coming in.
|Teams||Opening||Current||Bet %||Handle %|
Looking at the odds above, we see the Eagles opened up as -2.5 favorites and have moved to -3.5.
With 55% of the handle on Philadelphia, we expect that the sharp bettors liked the Eagles giving up less than a field goal.
Since the sportsbooks have reacted by moving the opening spread to -3.5, following the sharp money is more complex.
As many experienced gamblers know, there is a big advantage to being on the right side of a 3-point spread.
The Eagles’ -2.5 might be a lot more appealing to the sharps than at -3.5.
Always Shop Around
Following sharp money and sharp betting picks has long been considered a good idea for recreational bettors.
However, sharp bettors aren’t trying to beat closing lines and are very conscious of the odds and spreads they bet.
If you are thinking of following the sharp money and trying to profit from following the industry elite, it is important to make sure you shop around and play the same odds and spreads the sharps are betting.
If sharp money jumps all over the Eagles at -2.5, but you bet Philadelphia at -3.5, that is not the same.
To follow the sharp money, you need to play the best odds available and bet the same odds and spreads as the experts.
About the author
Malcolm loves to watch all kinds of different sports. He also writes about them.