NFL Picks: Panthers vs. Cardinals Week 5

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 3:00 PM GMT

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the 2013 NFL betting season, it’s time for our first “after a bye week” game. Is a rest as good as a change for the Carolina Panthers?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to October 1 inclusive:

11-10-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

2-4 Totals

This just in: Human beings have the capacity to learn. After everyone and his dog were ripping on Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for his questionable game management, Rivera shocked the football betting world by going for it on fourth down. Twice. In the same series. Carolina converted both times, scoring a touchdown in the process, and blanked the New York Giants (–1 away) 38-0 in Week 3.

And there was much rejoicing. With that result, the Panthers took a 1-2 SU and ATS record and plenty of hope into their very early bye week. Next up: the Arizona Cardinals (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS), who scored all their points in the fourth quarter to beat the capsizing Tampa Bay Buccaneers (–2.5 at home) 13-10 on Sunday. Our Week 5 NFL odds board has Carolina favored by two points at The U.

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It’s Always Better on Holiday 

Not surprisingly, the early action is on the rested team. The NFL consensus reports at press time show two-thirds of the NFL betting public supporting the Panthers, moving the spread ever so slightly from a pick ‘em (with Carolina –125) at the open. How slightly? Try two cents, according to the “fair” prices at the Wizard of Odds.

That doesn’t mean the sharps haven’t been busy unloading on the Panthers. Our first expanded consensus numbers for this matchup have come in just as I write this, and the average bet size on Carolina is $118.88, which is over twice that being plunked down on Arizona ($57.20). And no wonder. NFL teams coming off a bye week are traditionally a solid bet; Jason Logan has them at 201-172-3 SU and 201-166-9 ATS since 2001, which works out to a healthy 54.8 percent. 

Premature Recreation

God bless the bye week. The Panthers have had extra time to heal, and they’ve had extra time to observe and prepare for the Cardinals. These are big advantages, bigger than the football betting public can comprehend. There’s just one tiny problem: All things being equal, Week 4 is the worst time possible to get your bye week. That extended break is a lot more valuable when it comes later in the season, when your battered and bruised players need it the most. And just like the rest of us, NFL teams can only figure out so much about their opponents after the first month of the season. 

According to my painstaking research, teams coming off a Week 4 bye are 24-16 SU and 21-19 ATS since 2002. That’s 52.5 percent, which is barely above the break-even point of 52.4 percent on the standard –110 juice. The Panthers were involved in one of these games back in 2009; they beat Washington 20-17, but they coughed up the cash as a 5-point home chalk. Phooey.

Also Check out our:

NFL Picks: Week 5 Value Picks

NFL Picks: Week 5 Fades & Games to Avoid

Cardinal Fang

The ‘Cats still have the advantage going into Sunday’s matchup (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX), but Arizona has done a fine job beating the NFL point spreads thus far. As expected in sharper circles, the addition of QB Carson Palmer has breathed new life into the Cardinals offense, even though his play had been substandard. Football Outsiders has Palmer pegged at minus-97 passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) through four games, which is not very good, but it’s much better than the incredibly awful quarterbacking Arizona got last year.

This is a tough game to tackle with your sports picks. I’m going to throw my money behind Carolina, but it’s not a five-star pick by any means. Maybe there will be a middle opportunity later in the week if bettors keep piling on the Panthers. I sure love a good middle. 

NFL Pick: Take the Panthers –1.5 (–103) at Marathon
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