Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (8-4)

One of my favorites things to do as a bettor is go against significant week-to-week line movement, as they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. That’s definitely the case in this game, as this line has shifted from Carolina -2.5 last week on the early line to Minnesota -3 this week. The Vikings won in Atlanta last week, but Atlanta was missing their top cornerback Desmond Trufant and had another game in 4 days, so that win wasn’t a huge surprise.

The Panthers lost to an undermanned Saints team (Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, Terron Armstead) that also had another game in 4 days, but that game was closer than the final score, as the Panthers botched a punt in their own territory and then extended a New Orleans drive with a personal foul penalty 3 plays later. Had that not happened, the Panthers might have been able to kick a field goal early in the 4th quarter, rather than going for it on 4th and 6 down 14. The Saints only ended up winning the first down rate battle by +0.09%, despite the 10 point win.

The Panthers were also without center Ryan Kalil and tight end Greg Olsen last week, both of whom figure to be back this week. That should be a big boost to this offense. I still have this line at Carolina -1.5, so getting a full field goal with the Panthers at home is a great value. The Vikings are also in a tough spot in their 3rd straight road game. Teams are 77-95 ATS in that spot since 1989. I like the Panthers a lot this week. As long as you can get the full field goal, this is a high confidence pick. I also like the money line at +125.

Carolina Panthers 17 Minnesota Vikings 16 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Carolina +3

Confidence: High

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (8-3) at New Orleans Saints (8-3)

The Saints had their 8-game winning streak snapped last week in Los Angeles. The Rams are a tough opponent and the Saints were missing their top-2 cornerbacks, Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, so it wasn’t a huge shock, especially since the Rams were home favorites. The Saints return home this week, but they have another tough matchup with the Panthers coming to town. They also still have injury issues. While Crawley is expected to return, the Saints will be missing talented rookie safety Marcus Williams and pass catching tight end Coby Fleener, while Lattimore and left tackle Terron Armstead are questionable after being limited in practice all week this week.

Making matters worse, the Saints have to turn around and play an even tougher game in Atlanta on 4 days rest on Thursday Night Football next week. That might mean the Saints hold out either Lattimore and/or Armstead with the intention of them being 100% for the Atlanta game, but even if both play the Saints are still in a terrible spot with that game on deck. Favorites are 64-95 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football and divisional home favorites are just 24-62 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road underdogs. Both of those trends are very much in play here.

The Panthers have a tough game next week too, as they face the Vikings, but at least that game is at home in Carolina and on normal rest. The Panthers are favored by 3 in that one on the early line, while the Saints are 3 point underdogs in Atlanta. Underdogs are 67-41 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. That trend is not quite as relevant as the two aforementioned trends because Carolina’s next upcoming game isn’t easy, but there’s no denying that the Panthers enter this game in a much better situation schedule wise.

The Saints beat the Panthers 34-13 in Carolina back in week 3, but that was when Cam Newton was still working his way back from off-season shoulder surgery. The Panthers also didn’t have either center Ryan Kalil or tight end Greg Olsen in that one and both could play this week, though they might not be 100%. Teams tend to avenge on divisional home upsets anyway, as divisional road underdogs are 66-37 ATS since 2002 in regular season, same season revenge games against a team that previously pulled an upset against them. These two teams aren’t far off in talent, so it makes sense that the Panthers would at least come close to evening the season series this week, especially since the Saints could overlook them a little bit, given that they’ve already beaten them and that they have another big game in 4 days.

All of that being said, I wish we were getting a better line than Carolina +5. That’s about what I have this one calculated at, so we aren’t getting any real line value with the Panthers. The Saints are banged up, but they are the better team, as they rank 3rd in first down rate, while Carolina ranks 11th. The Saints’ 8 victories have all come by more than a touchdown, while just 3 of Carolina’s have. The Panthers still worth a bet because of the terrible spot the Saints are in and they should be able to keep this within a field goal or so, but this is just a medium confidence pick. I will upgrade this to a high confidence pick if the line shoots up to 6 before game time or if either Lattimore or Armstead are ruled out.

New Orleans Saints 23 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina +5

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at New York Jets: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (7-3) at New York Jets (4-6)

The NFC is loaded with playoff contenders, but the Panthers are in good position for at least a wild card coming out of their bye at 7-3. They are also big road favorites this week in New York against the Jets, which is typically a good spot for a team coming out of a bye. Road favorites of 3.5+ are 53-28 ATS since 1989 and the Panthers are 6 point favorites here. However, that record drops to 11-10 ATS when the opponent is also coming off of a bye, and the Jets are also coming off of their bye. On top of that, I don’t think the Panthers deserve to be 6 point favorites, as I have this these teams about 6 points apart in my rankings, meaning I have this line calculated at just 3 in favor of the visiting Panthers. Given that 30% of games are decided by 3-6 points, that’s a significant difference.

The Jets are not that talented of a team, but they are relatively healthy compared to the rest of the league and they at least try hard and are well coached under Todd Bowles and his staff, which makes them the best of about 7 or 8 bottom tier teams. They Jets are also 5-0 ATS this season at home, including an overtime win over the now 7-3 Jaguars and close losses against the 8-2 Patriots and 6-4 Falcons. If they can give those teams tough games, they should be able to give the Panthers a tough game as well. Carolina is a good team, but they’re not quite as good as their record, as they are just 3-2 in games decided by a touchdown or more. The Jets are worth a small bet as this could be another close win for the Panthers, who have 3 victories by at least 3 points already this season.

Carolina Panthers 20 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +6

Confidence: Medium

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (4-4) at Carolina Panthers (6-3)

The Dolphins are 4-4, but they have been one of the worst teams in the league this season. Their wins have come against the Chargers, who missed 2 field goals, both of which would have won the Chargers the game, the Titans, who were starting backup quarterback Matt Cassel, the Jets, by a field goal, and the Falcons, in a game in which the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead and then took their foot off the gas with a Super Bowl rematch on deck. Meanwhile, their 4 losses have come by a combined 77 points. They have a -63 point differential and rank 29th in first down rate differential at -4.57%.

The Panthers are not quite as good as their 6-3 record either, as they are 4-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including a home game against the Falcons last week that they likely would have lost if not for a Julio Jones drop. The Panthers are in a good spot though, heading into the bye week, at home, against an easy opponent. Home favorites of 7+ are 49-28 ATS since 1989 before a regular season bye week when their opponent does not have a bye week on deck. The only reason I wouldn’t put money on the Panthers is because I don’t think we’re getting much line value with them at -9. I have this line calculated at -7.5. It’s a low confidence pick, but the Panthers are the smarter choice for pick ‘em purposes.

Carolina Panthers 23 Miami Dolphins 13

Pick against the spread: Carolina -9

Confidence: Low

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers: 2017 Week 9 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-3)

The Panthers made a bizarre move at the trade deadline on Tuesday, trading #1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills for a 3rd and 7th round pick. With Benjamin going into the final year of his contract in 2018, it’s the kind of move that would make some sense for a team that is out of playoff contention, but the Panthers are right in the mix for a playoff spot in the NFC at 5-3, making the move a real headscratcher. They’ve already had major issues offensively this season with center Ryan Kalil and tight end Greg Olsen out with injury. Taking Benjamin out of the mix just hurts this offense even more. Their primary weapons in the passing game are now Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey, and Ed Dickson and they haven’t been able to run the ball consistently all season.

That trade prompted this line to shift from about -1 in favor of Carolina to -2.5 in favor of Atlanta. That seems like a significant line movement, but it’s within the field goals, so it’s the kind of line movement that likely won’t have an actual effect on the outcome against the spread, as about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. With that in mind, I’m taking the Falcons here, as I have this line calculated right between 2.5 and 3 in favor of the visiting Falcons. This is just a no confidence pick though, as we’re not getting much line value with Atlanta.

Atlanta Falcons 23 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -2.5

Confidence: None

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2017 Week 8 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

The Buccaneers are a talented team, but they have not been able to stay healthy thus far this season. Defensive tackle Chris Baker, outside linebacker Lavonte David, middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, cornerback Brent Grimes, and safety TJ Ward have all missed time, while quarterback Jameis Winston was knocked out of their week 6 loss in Arizona with a shoulder injury. They had all of those players back healthy for last week, but Grimes is now injured again, Alexander did not look nearly 100% in his first game back last week, and Winston re-injured his shoulder.

Winston is still expected to play, but he might not be at 100% and might not be able to finish the game if he takes another big hit. They have one of the worst defenses in the league right now thanks to injury, so they need Winston to have a good game if they want to avoid falling to 2-5. Not only are the Panthers a quality opponent (9th in first down rate differential), but Tampa Bay is also in a terrible spot with a trip to the division leading New Orleans Saints on deck, as divisional home favorites are just 24-61 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road favorites. That game could present a major distraction for a banged up team.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are in a great spot because they’re in their second of two road games. Teams are 249-266 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.91 points per game, as opposed to 367-504 straight up in a road game that’s sandwiched between two home games, getting outscored by an average of 2.93 points per game, a difference of about 2 points. It especially helps that the Panthers are underdogs off a loss, as road underdogs in their 2nd of two road games are 115-77 ATS off of a road loss.

That loss came in Chicago last week, but the Bears are an underrated team and the Panthers outperformed the Bears for most of the night, with the Bears only scoring on two return touchdowns and a 70-yard play by running back Tarik Cohen. The Panthers gained 20 first downs, while the Bears gained just 5, but the Bears still won 17-3. The Panthers have a 4-3 record despite a -9 turnover margin and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Panthers are better than their record suggests. I was hoping we’d get some line value with the Panthers in this spot after what happened last week, but the sharps have bet this line down to 1. I’d need a full field goal to put money on the Panthers against the spread, but the money line is worth a small bet as the Panthers should be favored in this game.

Carolina Panthers 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Carolina +1

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (4-2) at Chicago Bears (2-4)

This line was -4.5 in favor of the Panthers in Chicago last week on the early line, but, in the past week, the Bears won in Baltimore in a game in which they didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and the Panthers lost at home to the Eagles and lost All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly with a concussion. The Panthers are expected to get center Ryan Kalil back for the first time since week 1, but fill-in Tyler Larsen was playing pretty well, so he won’t be a huge upgrade and Kuechly is irreplaceable on this defense.

Despite that, this line only moved from 4.5 to 3.5. I thought we were getting good line value at 4.5 on the early line, but the value is even better at 3.5 given the Kuechly injury. Without Kuechly, I only have the Panthers about 2.5 points better than the Bears in my rankings, so we’re getting serious line value with the hometown Bears, especially considering 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. The Bears are just 2-4, but they came close to beating both the Falcons and the Vikings. They have an above average defense, they run the ball well, and rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky gives their offense a higher ceiling, even if his receiving corps are a major problem. They should be able to keep this close at home against a banged up Carolina team they and have a decent chance to pull the upset straight up.

Chicago Bears 17 Carolina Panthers 16 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Chicago +3.5

Confidence: High