What Does Public Mean in NFL Betting?

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Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Sirianni speaks with members of the media at the NFL football teams training facility in Philadelphia, Thursday, June 8, 2023.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 24, 2023, 12:47 PM

In its most commonly used form in NFL betting, “public” generally describes either a single bet or a style of betting that is most commonly used by non-professional bettors.

“Public” betting is seen as a point of contrast with “sharp” betting, which is often a more complex strategy used by advantage bettors and professionals.

As a general rule, “public” NFL bets will have a majority of the tickets because there are far more public bettors than sharp bettors. It’s in the nature of NFL betting that “public” is often interchangeable with “popular.”

However, one misconception in handicapping is that a highly public side is automatically the wrong one. While it’s true that public bettors are sometimes associated with losing bets, that’s over the course of dozens (or even hundreds) of bets. It’s impossible to draw serious statistical conclusions about individual wagers. Even bad bettors often win bets. 

Common examples of public NFL bets might include the over in a game between two high-scoring teams, or a good team laying points against a bad team. 

There are also teams that are considered “public” favorites, like the Chiefs or Cowboys, who are regularly targeted by non-professional bettors.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.