Carolina Panthers (8-0) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
The Panthers got a signature win last week, beating Green Bay 37-29, validating themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL. As a result, the public is all over them as 4.5 point favorites in Tennessee this week. As is usually the case when the public heavily backs one side, I’m going the other way. The public always loses money in the long run, so I like to fade the public whenever it makes sense. I think it does here, as the Panthers could be in for a huge letdown game following that big win. Teams are 61-104 ATS off of a win as home underdogs since 2010, including 15-32 ATS as favorites. Two weeks ago, the Broncos beat the previously undefeated Packers as home underdogs and proceeded to lose straight up as 6 point road favorites in Indianapolis last week. It’s hard to get up for a lesser opponent after such a huge win.
This line is also too high. The Panthers rank 5th in rate of moving the chains differential and have had arguably the toughest schedule of any undefeated team (winning in Seattle, at home for Philadelphia, at home for Indianapolis, and at home for Green Bay), but a trip to Tennessee isn’t a walk in the park, despite Tennessee having just 2 wins. The Titans have moved the chains at a 73.53% rate in the 6 games started by talented rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and their defense has allowed opponents to move the chains at a 72.20% rate. They’re better than their record.
It hurts the Titans that they’ll be without starting cornerback Jason McCourty in this one, but they’ve had one or both of their starting cornerbacks (Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty) injured in 6 of 8 games this season and have still played decently defensively. On offense, wide receiver Kendall Wright is out, but Mariota was able to light up the Saints without him last week. The Panthers’ obviously have a way better defense than the Saints, but the Titans could still have some offensive success and keep this within 4 points at home. Mariota is playing very well as a rookie, completing 65.5% of his passes for an average of 8.05 YPA, 13 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, while leading the Titans to that aforementioned offensive success.
This line is too high and has fallen from 5.5 and even 6 earlier this week, despite the public being all over Carolina, likely as a result of sharp action on Tennessee. I am going to side with the sharps over the public this week, as is usually a good idea. The Titans are not to be overlooked, especially in Tennessee, and the Panthers could easily do that after last week’s huge home win over the Packers. The Titans are also in a good spot off of an overtime win in New Orleans last week. Teams are 57-42 ATS since 1989 off of a road overtime win as underdogs, including 29-18 ATS as underdogs. I like the Titans a good deal.
Carolina Panthers 17 Tennessee Titans 16
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +4.5