NFL Picks: 49ers vs. Panthers Betting the Total

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 9, 2014 12:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 12:52 PM UTC

The Carolina Panthers are finally getting some NFL betting love for Sunday’s matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. But how about those football totals?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 9 inclusive:

44-39-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

11-18-1 Totals

Looks like my fears have been allayed. I was going a little bit mental earlier this week after I saw that the San Francisco 49ers were getting all the attention on the football betting lines for Sunday’s Divisional Round game against the Carolina Panthers. But then the money started rolling in on Carolina. Big money. It feels almost like a check-raise in poker.

Now let’s see what we can do about those NFL totals. We’ve got an over/under of 42 on the board for Sunday’s matchup (1:05 p.m. ET, FOX), easily the lowest total of the four Divisional Round games. We’ve also got a weather forecast calling for a 60-percent chance of rain at kick-off with not much wind, although it looks like things may be clearing up before things get underway. It’s supposed to be around the mid-50s otherwise.

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I Still Dream of Orgonon

Maybe we can get Wilhelm Reich’s cloudbusting machine up and running. Or the one from that awful version of The Avengers. No, not the superhero movie. Dammit, I want some rain over The Vault – or at least some clarification on the weather report before I open up my wallet. With a total this low, I’m not entirely comfortable betting the UNDER, even if these two teams have capable defenses, and even if Carolina beat San Francisco 10-9 (UNDER 43) back in Week 10.

It’s not easy to get a handle on these NFL betting patterns, either. Our consensus reports show this baby getting carved almost right down the middle, although the early action was firmly on the OVER. It’s been a bit back-and-forth since then, but most people have been loading up on the UNDER since the first wave of betting, driving the total down from 43.5 points at the open. A public UNDER? That can’t be good.

Running in the Family

I certainly wouldn’t stop anyone from betting that way when the Panthers (UNDER 11-5) are involved. It’s like they’re the anti-Denver Broncos, bringing the No. 3-ranked defense (No. 3 pass, No. 6 rush) to the field, along with the No. 10-ranked offense (No. 14 pass, No. 4 rush). My goodness, does Carolina like to run the ball. We’re talking 483 carries for over 2,000 yards, and only one lost fumble. That’ll chew up some clock.

San Francisco fans know what I mean. The Niners (8-8 on totals) are built much the same way, although their defense slipped to No. 13 overall this year (No. 10 pass, No. 14 rush) after checking in at No. 3 en route to Super Bowl XLVII. San Fran’s No. 8-ranked offense (No. 4 pass, No. 14 rush) might be more efficient through the air, but with 505 carries, only two other teams carried the ball more during the regular season: the Buffalo Bills (546) and the Seattle Seahawks (509).

Computer Love

The computer projections I’m looking at have a range between 42 and 45 points for Sunday’s game, which doesn’t bode particularly well for the UNDER, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in them. Although there is some tremendous work being done out there on mathematical models. Did you see the story in Slate that referred to our betting odds? More importantly, did you read the academic paper in question that shows how in-game scoring tends to follow predictable patterns? I’m still sifting through it, so I’m not ready to comment yet, but… whoa.

I’m going to go ahead and recommend the UNDER; however, it’s the least certain of my four Divisional Round total picks. Let the weather reports get sorted out before placing your bets on this one. And may the prolate spheroid be with you.

NFL Pick: Take UNDER 42.5 at William Hill

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