Dec 092012
 

Atlanta Falcons (11-1) at Carolina Panthers (3-9)

I really like using trends to pick NFL games. Not all games have the same weight on a team’s schedule and games don’t always mean the same thing for the teams playing it. This is why upsets happen. However, there aren’t any really good ones in play here, except this. Teams are 49-37 ATS as home favorites after a loss as road favorites since 1989, including 14-8 ATS as divisional home dogs when the previous game was non-divisional. That applies to the Panthers, who have gone from road favorites to home dogs in just one week because of one loss, which really didn’t have much to do with them, as the Chiefs were galvanized by the Jovan Belcher situation. However, that really assumes the Panthers don’t deserve to be home dogs here, which they do.

In fact, we may be getting line value with the Falcons, who are rested. Teams are 118-100 ATS on a Sunday following a Thursday game. The Falcons rank 4th in net points per drive at 0.64, while the Panthers rank 26th at -0.47. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per team per team) and move the line 3 points in Carolina’s direction for home field, you get a real line of Atlanta -9. However, DVOA defeats this some as the Falcons rank 10th in DVOA, while the Panthers rank 18th. In weighted DVOA, the Falcons are 14th to the Panthers’ 18th place rank. That kind of suggests we’re getting some line with the Panthers even. It’s important to compare because net points per drive doesn’t take things like schedule into account that DVOA, which is net points per drive based, does.

As you can tell, I don’t really have a good feel for this game. I’m going with the Falcons, however. The tiebreaker is the Falcons’ road performance this season. Once an incredible home team, the Falcons have for some reason failed get a single convincing home win this season, winning just one home game by more than a touchdown and that was last week against New Orleans, in a game that was closer than the final score. However, on the road they have wins of 16, 24, and 13. Granted those were against San Diego, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, but is Carolina really much better?

Public lean: Atlanta (70% range)

Sharps lean: CAR 27 ATL 8

Final thoughts: This heavy sharps lean, in contrast with the heavy public lean on Carolina, and the fact that William Moore has been ruled out for the Falcons almost made me change my pick to a unit on the Panthers, but I’d need more points to do that. This line is small enough that if I were to pick the Panthers, I’d have to really believe they could win and I don’t. This reminds me of Chicago/Tennessee a few weeks ago. All the signs pointed to Tennessee being the right side, but I didn’t believe they could actually win. Tennessee got blown out.

Atlanta Falcons 27 Carolina Panthers 17

Pick against spread: Atlanta -3.5 (-110) 1 unit

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