Carolina Panthers (3-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)
Obviously, I can’t do this write up without mentioning the tragedy that happened Saturday Morning. Early Saturday morning, Chiefs’ starting middle linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend at their house and then came to the Chiefs’ practice facility and committed suicide in front of several teammates and coaches, including Head Coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli.
Obviously, my sympathies go out to his murdered girlfriend (RIP) and their newborn baby, but it’s very, very hard for me to feel sympathetic for Belcher, who died a murderer and a man who destroyed a family and left his newborn baby orphaned. If Belcher had simply committed murder and gotten arrested and hauled off to jail for the rest of his life, we would feel no sympathy for him at all. He would be remembered as a murderer and a criminal and I don’t see why that should be any different now. Yes, it’s clear he was mentally ill, but don’t you have to be to kill someone?
Anyway, there’s simply no way to know how this will affect this game. I really don’t. I don’t even feel good talking about football in relation to this incident. I can’t imagine how anyone will feel playing football a day after this incident and that goes for both the Chiefs and the Panthers. They might not even play the game, though reports say that the Panthers have been told to continue with their travel plans as normal in expectation of a game being played.
Will the Chiefs come out the way the Colts did after Chuck Pagano left the team to undergo chemotherapy (I don’t feel good comparing Pagano and Belcher)? Will the Chiefs come out completely flat and looking like a team that just lost a teammate to a murder/suicide with members of the team and coaching staff watching? How will this affect the Panthers? I don’t have answers to these questions. I don’t think anyone does. I don’t think the players do. We don’t even know if there’s going to be a game.
My original pick was going to be the Chiefs for a unit. Teams tend to do well as road favorites after a win as road favorites, going 50-30 ATS since 2002, a situation the Panthers are in, but teams are 18-10 ATS in their 3rd straight home game as dogs, and 12-6 ATS off 2 losses, a situation the Chiefs are in. Teams are also 32-61 ATS as non-conference favorites before being divisional dogs since 2002 and the Panthers host the Falcons next week.
Non-conference road favorites are 2-8 ATS before being divisional home dogs since 2002, 3-16 ATS if we go back to 1989 to get a larger sample size. There’s no line value either way (real line is at Carolina -3), but the fact that Brady Quinn is now the Chiefs’ quarterback may give us some line value, as well as the fact that the Panthers rank 19th in DVOA and weighted DVOA, though just 25th in net points per drive, which is how I compute line value.
I really was just planning on going with the Chiefs because the public is pounding Carolina and the public always loses money in the long run and that 3-16 ATS trend is hard to ignore, but just for a very small play. I’m going to stick with that because I have even less of a clue now. If there was ever a time for a zero unit pick, this would be it and this game should be dead last in confidence pools. We don’t even know if this game is going to be played.
Public lean: Carolina (80% range)
Sharps lean: CAR 9 KC 2
Final update: Sharps didn’t have a clue before the Belcher shooting (picks are due by 2 PM ET on Saturday for LV Hilton, which is barely after the shooting) and I doubt that incident would have cleared things up for them. I still have no clue here.
And by the way, I’m perfectly fine with this game being played. The Redskins played after Sean Taylor’s death and it’s not like the NFL is forcing the Chiefs to play. The Chiefs decided to play because they want to play. Very few people know what they’re going through and even if you do, who are we to tell them how to grieve?
Carolina Panthers 17 Kansas City Chiefs 16
Pick against spread: Kansas City +3 (-110) 1 unit