Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-7) at Carolina Panthers (3-8)

These two teams are pretty similar. Both have among the worst offenses in the league, with the Panthers ranking 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and the Broncos ranking 32nd. The Broncos’ offense is better in my roster rankings, as they have a quarterback in Russell Wilson who at least has a track record of success and could bounce back at some point, even if he’s struggling mightily this year, and the Broncos have also been better on defense this season, ranking 4th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Panthers rank 14th, but the Broncos are not nearly as healthy on either side of the ball as they were earlier in the season and the Panthers have the significant edge on special teams (10th vs. 32nd), so, overall, these two teams are about even in both my roster rankings and in schedule adjusted efficiency, with both teams about 5-6 points below average in both aspects.

Despite the similarities between these two teams, the Broncos are actually favored by 1.5 points on the road here in Carolina, suggesting they’re the significantly better of these two teams. There isn’t enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting against the spread, but they should be the ones favored by a couple points and the money line is a good value at +105 as the Panthers are slightly better than 50/50 to win this game. The Panthers are also the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Carolina Panthers 15 Denver Broncos 13 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Carolina +1.5

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (3-7) at Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

This line is pretty high, favoring the Ravens by 12.5, but I don’t think it’s high enough, as this is a matchup of among the best and among the worst teams in the league, with the better team, the Baltimore Ravens at home. The Ravens have three losses, but all came by four points or fewer and all came after blowing 4th quarter leads, with the Ravens leading the league in percentage of time leading per game. In terms of point differential, the Ravens rank 6th at +39 and in schedule adjusted efficiency they rank 3rd, about 7.5 points above average.

The Ravens have done that despite having several key players miss time with injury and now, coming out of their bye week, they are as healthy as they have been in weeks. Stud tight end Mark Andrews, top running back Gus Edwards, stud left tackle Ronnie Stanley, stud defensive lineman Calais Campbell, starting edge defenders Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser, and starting cornerback Marcus Peters have all missed time with injury thus far this season but have since returned and will play this week, for a Ravens team that ranks almost ten points above average in my roster rankings. They’re also in a good spot coming out of the bye, with Jim Harbaugh being 21-11 ATS with extra time to prepare in his career as Ravens’ head coach.

The Panthers, meanwhile, have played slightly better in recent weeks after a 1-5 start, but they are still just 3-7 and they go back to quarterback Baker Mayfield this week, losing PJ Walker due to injury, a key absence considering he has been their quarterback for their recent slight offensive improvement. Even with slightly better offensive play in recent weeks, the Panthers still rank 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency across the season, about five points below average, leading three of the Panthers’ seven losses coming by 14 points or more and four of seven coming by at least 10 points. 

Carolina’s defense is what has kept them somewhat competitive in some games, ranking 14th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, but they’re not healthy right now, with starting interior defender Matt Ioanndis and starting cornerback Donte Jackson both out this week. They could get starting safety Jeremy Chinn back this week, but, if not, they’ll not only be without him, but they’ll likely be without the two players they have used most in his absence, Myles Hartsfield and Juston Burris, leaving them very thin at safety. 

Even if Chinn does play, he might not be 100% and the Panthers will still be at least four points below average in my roster rankings, fourteen points below the Ravens, giving us some line value with the Ravens as 12.5-point home favorites. This line is too big for the Ravens to be worth a big bet this week, but they are bettable at that number, even with Chinn’s possible return. I want to lock this in now because the line could increase to 13 or higher if Chinn is ruled out before gametime. This is likely to be a blowout victory for the Ravens either way.

Baltimore Ravens 27 Carolina Panthers 10

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -12.5

Confidence: Medium

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (4-5) at Carolina Panthers (2-7)

Two weeks ago, the Panthers were 4-point underdogs in Atlanta and covered the spread in a close loss by a field goal in overtime. Given that, it’s surprising to see the Panthers as home underdogs of a full field goal in this rematch. Normally teams are given 1-2 points for homefield advantage, which would put this line at about Atlanta -1, based on Atlanta being -4 at home a couple weeks ago. Atlanta -1 was actually the line for this game on the early line last week, but it has since shifted all the way up to three.

The reason for that shift and for the line being where it is now is that the Panthers were blown out in Cincinnati last week, but I think the line movement is an overreaction, especially since the Bengals also beat the Falcons easily a few weeks ago and now have four double digit victories on the season. My calculated line is still at Atlanta -1.5, so we’re getting some line value with the Panthers, particularly when you consider that 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly. There isn’t enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Atlanta Falcons 26 Carolina Panthers 24

Pick against the spread: Carolina +3

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (2-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)

The Bengals have been better than their 4-4 record this season, with a +22 point differential and an 8th ranked schedule adjusted efficiency, three points above average. However, they are one of the most injury affected teams in the league right now, missing top cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, top wide receiver JaMarr Chase, and top interior defender DJ Reader, all of whom are among their most important players. 

Fortunately, the Bengals are in a good spot heading into their bye week, as big home favorites over the lowly Panthers. Home favorites of 6 points or more cover the spread at a 63.5% rate all-time before a bye and the Bengals are favored in this game by 7 points. Missing the key players they are missing, I have the Bengals a half point below average in my roster rankings, but the Panthers rank 6 points below average in schedule adjusted efficiency and 5 points below average in my roster rankings, so this line is actually a little short, with my calculated line at 8.5. It’s not great line value, but between that and the great spot the Bengals are in, they are bettable this week at -7.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Carolina Panthers 16

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -7

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (2-5) at Atlanta Falcons (3-4)

The Panthers pulled the massive upset at home against the Buccaneers last week as 13-point home underdogs, but teams tend to have a hard time following up a big home upset win, covering at a 41.9% rate all-time after a home upset win as underdogs of 5 points or more. The Panthers effectively won their Super Bowl last week and likely will now have a hard time bringing their best effort again for this game against the Falcons this week, now on the road in Atlanta. The Panthers also still rank just 31st in the league in schedule adjusted efficiency, even with last week’s upset win taken into account, so they are overvalued as mere 4-point underdogs against a more competitive Falcons team.

The Falcons lost last week by double digits in Cincinnati, which, along with the Panthers’ upset victory, caused this line to shift from originally favoring the Falcons by 6.5, but the Panthers’ win was likely more of a fluke than anything, while the Falcons still rank 9th in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, about nine points better than the Panthers. The Falcons’ 4th ranked offense in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency probably won’t perform at that level all season, while their 29th ranked defense is now missing it’s two best cornerbacks due to injury, but their defensive problems won’t be as big of a deal against the Panthers’ dead last ranked offense and, overall, my calculated line still favors the Falcons by 6, before taking into account that they are in a better spot than the Panthers. This isn’t a big play, but the Falcons are bettable this week.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Carolina Panthers 16

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -4

Confidence: Medium

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-5)

Tom Brady led teams typically bounce back well after a loss and the Buccaneers lost last week in Pittsburgh, but Brady’s ATS record after a loss is significantly better when he’s not a heavy favorite, going 36-12 ATS when not favored by more than a touchdown, but just 11-14 ATS as favorites of more than a touchdown. This week, the Buccaneers are whopping 13 point favorites in Carolina, so Brady’s track record after a loss probably won’t be as relevant to the Buccaneers’ chances of covering this spread.

That being said, this line is somewhat justifiable, given how bad the Panthers are right now. They actually have a solid defense, ranking 10th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, but offensive performance is significantly more predictive week-to-week than defensive performance and their offense is the worst in the league by a significant margin, leading to the Panthers ranking dead last in overall schedule adjusted efficiency, despite a decent defense. 

Things will get even worse on offense this week for the Panthers, starting 4th string quarterback PJ Walker for the second straight week, only this time without by far their best offensive player, Christian McCaffrey, who the rebuilding Panthers sent to the 49ers in a mid-week trade this week. Even the Panthers’ defense could have significant problems this week, with key injuries piling up, losing talented safety Jeremy Chinn back in week 3 and now being without talented interior defender Matt Ioannidis, who will miss his first game of the season this week.

The Buccaneers’ offense has been underwhelming this season, ranking 17th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, but they are more talented than that on paper and they are significantly healthier now than they were earlier in the season, while their defense ranks 1st in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency by a wide margin, leading to the Buccaneers ranking 4th in schedule adjusted overall efficiency. That’s is more or less in line with where they rank in my roster rankings, in which they have a 14-point edge over the Panthers.

That 14-point gap does suggest that the Buccaneers are a little overvalued as 13-point road favorites though, even if slightly. The Buccaneers are also in somewhat of a tough spot with a much tougher game on deck against the Ravens, which happens to be on a short week on Thursday Night Football. Favorites cover at just a 42.6% rate all-time before Thursday Night Football and the fact that the Buccaneers will face a tough opponent next week hurts their chances of covering this week even more, as favorites of more than a touchdown cover at just a 43.6% rate before facing an opponent whose winning percentage will be 40% higher than their current opponent, which could easily be the case here. 

The Buccaneers will likely be very focused to start this game after being embarrassed last week, but they may take their foot off the gas with a big lead in the second half, which could allow a Carolina backdoor cover, even if the Buccaneers otherwise dominate this game. That’s not enough for me to take the Panthers with any confidence this week, even getting this many points (somehow the Panthers have covered in just three of their last 20 games and spreads might not have adjusted quite enough yet), but if I had to take a side for pick ‘em purposes, I would side with the Panthers by the slightest of margins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 Carolina Panthers 9

Pick against the spread: Carolina +13

Confidence: None

Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (1-4) at Los Angeles Rams (2-3)

The Panthers came into this season with some hope of being better on offense, adding quarterback Baker Mayfield and overhauling the offensive line in front of him, after finishing the 2021 season ranked 29th in offensive efficiency. Their defense ranked 4th in efficiency last season, and, while they didn’t look quite as talented on defense going into this season, they still seemed to have an above average unit on that side of the ball, so if they had a somewhat decent offense, the Panthers could have been a competitive team this season. 

Carolina’s defense has mostly held up its end of the bargain, ranking 10th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but their offense has been arguably worse than a year ago, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency. Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers last week when they were blown out at home by the 49ers in a game in which Baker Mayfield got hurt and after which head coach Matt Rhule was fired, meaning the Panthers will have a completely different head coach/quarterback combination this week than they did a week ago. It’s unclear if that will help though and it actually could make things worse. 

Rhule was definitely overmatched as head coach, but interim head coach Steve Wilks does not have a good track record leading a team and their offense problems will remain, with Wilks being a defensive coach and Ben McAdoo still in charge on offense. Meanwhile, as badly as Mayfield has played, backup PJ Walker has proven to be completely overmatched whenever he’s been forced into action in the past and at ont point this off-season he was the Panthers’ 4th quarterback, before injuries to Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Matt Corral. 

The Panthers are also in a tough spot in Los Angeles against a Rams team that has a bye on deck, with big home favorites covering the spread at a high rate before their bye week, doing so at a 62.9% rate all-time as home favorites of 6 points or more. That trend would seem to apply, with the Rams being favored by 10 points, but, even with all of the problems the Panthers have, I think the Rams are overvalued at that number, as they have their own offensive problems, having lost several starters from last year’s Super Bowl team, due to injuries and free agency. 

The Panthers still have a strong defense, especially with safety Xavier Woods back from a one-game absence, so it’s really hard to trust the Rams as double digit favorites in what figures to be a low scoring game, even with the head coach and quarterback issues the Panthers have and even with the Rams in a good spot. I can’t have any confidence in the Panthers either, but they seem like the better side for pick ‘em purposes, with my calculated line only favoring the offense challenged Rams by 6.

Los Angeles Rams 19 Carolina Panthers 10

Pick against the spread: Carolina +10

Confidence: None

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)

This is one of the more surprising lines of the week, with the Panthers going from being just 3-point home underdogs against the 49ers on the early line last week to now 6.5-point home underdogs, following the 49ers’ 15-point home victory over the Rams and the Panthers 10-point home loss to the Cardinals last week. I usually like to go against significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play and that is the case here. My calculated line has the 49ers as no better than field goal favorites and it’s really hard to justify the 49ers as favorites of this many points on the road against a good defense, given how much the 49ers’ offense is struggling.

Through the first four games of the season, the 49ers rank 28th in first down rate and 30th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and my roster rankings have them significantly below average on offense as well. They still have Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, but their running back group is depleted by injury and their offensive line lost a trio of starters this off-season and now is without Trent Williams, who will be filled in for this week by third stringer Jaylon Moore, after backup Colton McKivitz played admirably in their first game without Williams last week, before suffering an injury of his own.

The Panthers’ defense, meanwhile, ranks 7th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, a year after finishing the 2021 season ranked 4th, so they should cause problems for this 49ers’ offense. The Panthers obviously have their own offensive issues, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, while the 49ers rank 1st in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, which is a bigger mismatch than the 49ers’ offense against the Panthers’ defense, especially since the 49ers could be getting back could be getting Jimmie Ward and Jason Verrett back from injury, but it’s still hard to justify the 49ers as 6.5-point favorites on the road in what should be a low scoring game. I like the Panthers a good amount this week.

San Francisco 49ers 19 Carolina Panthers 17

Pick against the spread: Carolina +6.5

Confidence: High

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)

A week ago on the early line, the Cardinals were favored by a field goal on the road in this game in Carolina. At that number, I would have liked the Panthers a lot. The Cardinals were at the top of my overrated list coming into the season. They went 11-6 last season, but needed a +12 turnover margin to get to that record, which is not predictive, and they ranked just 14th in overall efficiency, barely above average.

They also got a lot worse this off-season, losing starting wide receiver Christian Kirk, top edge defender Chandler Jones, top off ball linebacker Jordan Hicks, top cornerback Robert Alford, and their most efficient running back Chase Edmonds, with their only major addition being former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, who cost the Cardinals their first round pick in a trade and who isn’t a significant upgrade on Christian Kirk. They’ll also be without top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season due to a suspension.

As field goal road favorites on the early line, the Cardinals were clearly overrated a week ago, but we’ve lost a lot of value in the past week, with this line dropping down to even. It’s not necessarily that the Cardinals’ aren’t overrated still, but the Panthers may be as well, after picking up their first win of the season last week against the Saints in a game in which they primarily won because of a return touchdown and a +3 turnover margin, losing the first down rate battle by 8.89% and the yards per play battle by 1.69, which are much more predictive week-to-week than turnovers.

In terms of overall efficiency, which are based on first downs and yards per play, the Panthers rank just 26th on the season, which isn’t too far behind the 22nd ranked Cardinals, but I still have about two points between these two teams in my roster rankings, so we aren’t getting much line value with the Panthers on an even line. I’m still taking the Panthers for pick ‘em purposes, in part because the Cardinals could overlook them with a much tougher game against the Eagles on deck, but there isn’t nearly enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting.

Carolina Panthers 17 Arizona Cardinals 16

Pick against the spread: Carolina PK

Confidence: Low

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 3 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)

The Panthers are 0-2, but both of their losses have been very close, coming by a combined 5 points. In their 3-point loss to the Giants last week, they won the yards per play battle by 1.31 and the yards per play battle by 6.03%, only losing because of a -2 turnover margin, which is not nearly as predictive week-to-week as yards and first downs. Their offense only ranks 19th in efficiency, but that’s a significant improvement over last season, when they ranked 29th, as Baker Mayfield is at least somewhat of an improvement over last season’s quarterback situation. 

Their defense, meanwhile, once again ranks among the best in the league in efficiency, again ranking 4th, a year after having the 4th ranked defense in efficiency across the 2021 season. They probably aren’t as good defensively as that suggests and they’ve faced a pretty easy schedule in terms of the offenses they’ve faced this season, but they’re at least an above average unit on that side of the ball, while their offense is much more of a complementary unit than it was a year ago. Despite their 0-2 start, the Panthers are likely to be a competitive team for most of the season, barring major injuries.

That being said, we’re getting good value with the Panthers as field goal underdogs at home against the Saints. New Orleans is a more talented team overall, but they’re a similar team to the Panthers in that they have a below average offense and an above average defense and, while the Panthers haven’t lost by more than a field goal yet this season, the Saints have yet to win by more than a field goal, struggling to beat the Falcons in Atlanta week 1. They could easily have even more trouble on the road against a better division foe in Carolina. My calculated line is even, so like getting the full field goal with the home team enough to bet on the Panthers. I don’t like them as much at +2.5, but the money line should be a good value regardless and even at +2.5 they would remain my pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Carolina Panthers 17 New Orleans Saints 16 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Carolina +3

Confidence: Medium