Carolina Panthers (3-3) at New York Giants (1-5)
The Panthers started 3-0, but have fallen back to earth at 3-3. The schedule has gotten tougher, as their wins came against the Jets and Texans, two of the worst teams in the league, and the Saints, who were flat off of a huge week one win, while their recent losses have come to the Cowboys, Eagles, and Vikings. However, injuries have also been a big part of the problem and this team has legitimately seen it’s level of play fall off in recent weeks as a result of absences like feature back Christian McCaffrey, top cornerback Jaycee Horn, and top linebacker Shaq Thompson.
The Panthers schedule gets easier this week with a trip to New York to face the Giants, but the Giants aren’t as bad as the Jets or Texans, who were relatively competitive against the Panthers earlier this season. The Giants are just 1-5, but two of their losses have come by a combined four points, so they could easily have another win or two, while their blowout loss to the Cowboys was a tied game before quarterback Daniel Jones suffered a concussion that knocked him out for the game.
Overall, they rank 23rd in schedule adjusted first down rate, 22nd in schedule adjusted yards per play allowed, and 13th in special teams DVOA, not great, but also not in line with the worst teams in the league. The Giants are coming off their worst game of the season, losing 38-11 at home to the Rams, but betting a team coming off their worst game of the season tends to be a winning proposition as you can get good value, as we are in this game where the Giants are field goal home underdogs against an underwhelming opponent. The public is betting heavily on the Panthers as field goal road favorites because of recency bias, but my calculated line is at even.
The Giants are also in a good spot as home underdogs immediately after being blown out as home underdogs, as teams cover at about a 59.3% rate in their second straight game as home underdogs after a loss by 14 points or more. Teams likely tend to be undervalued in that spot historically like the Giants are here and it seems to be easier for teams to compete with or better a superior team in their second of two home games than in the first. Between the line value and the good spot, the Giants are worth a play this week, as they have a good chance to pull the upset and we are getting a field goal cushion to work with if they don’t.
Update: The Giants surprisingly won’t have wide receiver Sterling Shepard, which hurts this offense, but I have already locked this pick in. The Giants aren’t a terrible bet even without Shepard, but I would have preferred if he played.
New York Giants 17 Carolina Panthers 16 Upset Pick +135
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3