Dec 152012

Detroit Lions (4-9) at Arizona Cardinals (4-9)

One of the most powerful trends is known as the six and six trend. This says that teams that finish 6-10 or worse struggle to cover as favorites of 6 or more, going 23-64 ATS since 2002. The Lions are currently 4-9 and need to win out to finish better than 6-10 and even if they win this week, there’s no way they’ll win out against Atlanta and Chicago. Not only are they 6 point favorites here, they are 6 point favorites on the road. I know the Cardinals aren’t very good, but you kind of have to be not very good to be dogs of 6 or more against a team that’s going to finish 6-10 or worse, so this definitely applies in this situation, even after Arizona lost 58-0 last week.

In fact, the fact that the Cardinals lost 58-0 last week makes it more likely they’ll cover this week. Teams are undervalued, overlooked, and embarrassed in this situation. Teams are 41-21 ATS since 2002 off a loss of 35+. They’re definitely undervalued as the line has moved from -3 to -6.5 in the past week, which is a complete overreaction. I know the Cardinals suck, but didn’t we know that last week? A 3.5 point line movement is ridiculous. No one deserves to be 6.5 point home dogs to the Lions.

Further illustrating that the Cardinals don’t deserve to be 6.5 point home dogs here, we’re getting significant line value with them. The Lions actually rank 14th in net points per drive at 0.09 because they’ve had a lot of close losses, while the Cardinals rank 28th at -0.43, even after their huge loss last week. If we take the difference, multiply by 11 (average amount of drives per game per team) and move the line in Arizona’s favor 2.5 points for home field, we get that Detroit should be -3, which is where this line was last week, which is more reasonable. After all, of the Lions 4 wins, only one came by more than 4 points.

So we’ve established they’re undervalued, let’s move on to overlooked. The Lions are coming off a close loss as big dogs against the division rival Packers and next have to face the Falcons and Bears. Why would they care about the crappy Cardinals, especially off that huge loss? There are a bunch of trends corresponding to this situation.

Teams are 20-32 ATS as non-divisional favorites off a loss by 7 or less as divisional dogs of 6+ since 1989. Teams are 3-7 ATS as road favorites of 6+ off of being road dogs of 6+ since 1989. Teams are 70-106 ATS as road favorite before being home dogs since 1989. Teams are 5-16 ATS as road favorites before being home dogs in 2+ straight since 1989. Arizona is also in the sandwich situation. Teams are 59-85 ATS since 2008 as favorites off a loss as dogs before being dogs, including 44-67 ATS as favorites of a touchdown or less. This is a huge breather spot for them in a tough stretch of their schedule.

So we’ve established they’re undervalued and will be overlooked. How about embarrassed? Well, they’ll definitely be embarrassed off of that loss. It’s just common sense and that does affect you on the football field. That aforementioned 41-21 ATS trend demonstrates this. These guys are professionals playing for jobs and money and respect and whatever. This game reminds me of the Jets covering as 9 point home dogs against Houston after getting shutout at home by the 49ers the week before in a 34-0 loss. We’re also getting a chance to fade a very heavy public lean in Detroit and the public always loses money in the long run.

All the trends say Arizona is the right side and they’re in an unbelievably good spot. Ordinarily, I would make Arizona a 5 unit pick of the week or even a 6 unit co-pick of the year (only used once this year, New England +3 at Baltimore, a 30-29 New England loss and cover). On paper, I love the Cardinals so much. However, I just can’t trust Arizona’s quarterbacks for that much. It also kind of worries me that the Lions have already covered once as 6 point road favorites in Jacksonville earlier this year, but I think the Cardinals are a better team than the Blaine Gabbert led Jaguars (they have a better defense and almost beat Atlanta a few weeks ago) and they’re in a much better spot. It’s a 4 unit co-pick of the week on Arizona.

Public lean: Detroit (90% range)

Detroit Lions 16 Arizona Cardinals 13

Pick against spread: Arizona +6.5 (-110) 4 units

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