Millman: Aristotle Is Wrong and Other Reasons I’m Betting the Browns and Jags
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield
- The betting odds for Sunday's Seahawks vs. Browns game opened with Cleveland as a 2-point favorite.
- Since then, though, the odds have moved quite a bit. Seattle is a road favorite at the time of writing.
- Chad Millman details why he likes the Browns so much this week. (Here's a hint:
Several years ago, back when Wikipedia first dazzled us, the wisdom of the crowds became a thing … again. You really couldn’t get away from it, the idea was as ubiquitous as Internet-powered food-delivery start-ups. Somehow, the digeratti had co-opted an ancient idea and decided, through improved technology and more efficient data collection, that using many minds to make a decision was the way to catch a trendy wave.
The truth is, group-think is as old as time. Maybe even older. I know because I typed “wisdom of the crowds” into Wikipedia and learned that Aristotle was touting this philosophy way back in the fourth century BC. Really, I won’t quote it for you because that is way too pretentious. But you can look it up, too.
But historically, when it comes to betting, the crowds tend to lead you down a path of devastation and ruin. Our high-end product, was founded on the concept of contrarian principles — i.e., betting against the public. Take that Aristotle!
The notion is that anytime you see a majority of the betting tickets, which you can track in the FREE Action Network App, coming in on one side, you should run to your nearest legal mobile betting app or ticket window and bet the other side. It’s brilliant. And, honestly, it’s how I first came to learn about Sports Insights more than a decade ago, which ultimately led me to abandoning a ridiculously powerful job for this gig, in the current facsimile of the food-delivery start-up craze (kidding!).
Don’t believe me? Well, I asked our chief scientist, John Ewing, to dig through the millions of data points in our supreme tool to come up with the evidence to back my theory. Every philosopher needs proof. Here’s what John slacked me: “In general, any team receiving 70% or more of bets since 2003 has gone 603-642-31 (48%) ATS and cost a $100 bettor $5,960.”
Well, don’t look now people, but these are the teams getting more than 70% of the bets so far in Week 6:
- Seattle -2 against Cleveland
- Atlanta -2.5 against Arizona
- Dallas -7 against the Jets
And, coming in at just under 70%, with a whopping 68% of the bets, are the New Orleans Saints +1 against Jacksonville.
There is one thing that all four of those teams have in common: They are road faves (I’m counting New Orleans in this scenario because the line is moving in its direction, and by kickoff, I suspect the Saints will be the favorites).
Let’s throw out the Falcons and Cowboys, who are both coming off of bad losses and playing really bad teams, so of course the public is going to pile on. I want to focus on the Jags and the Browns, two teams I am going to defy the genius of Aristotle and bet on this weekend. Why?
It’s simple: The public is stupid. Forget about the fact John Ewing just proved it with his very large data set. Bookmakers will always tell you the public bets what it last saw. And they will accordingly shade their point spreads to take advantage of that recency bias.
And the public last saw Jacksonville getting steamrolled by Christian McCaffrey, who flipped his way to 176 yards rushing, two touchdowns and a 9.3 yards per carry average to help the Panthers win. And they saw the Saints and Teddy Bridgewater finally open up the playbook and look like the best team in the NFC, beating a Bucs squad that the wiseguys loved and had just beaten up on the Rams. Plus, the week before, the Saints had dominated the Cowboys defensively. Do you see the pattern I’m building. Jags look bad, Saints look extra, extra good.
It’s the same, although admittedly riskier, with the Browns. They were one of the public’s favorite teams to start the year. And they’ve done nothing but disappoint since the opening kickoff. Baker Mayfield looks confused and Freddie Kitchens looks outmatched. When last we saw the Browns, it was Monday Night Football and OBJ was fumbling punts late in the fourth quarter even after the Browns were further behind than Marianne Williamson.
Meanwhile, Seattle just beat up on, you guessed it, the Rams in a primetime spot and is coming off of 10 days rest. That’s why at least 75% of you are betting the Seahawks.
And that’s why I’m taking the Browns.
For more on Browns-Seahawks, Saints-Jags and the rest of the NFL slate, check out our staff’s betting guides on the games.