NFL Picks: Patriots vs. Panthers

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 14, 2013 3:41 PM GMT

Believe it or not, the Monday Night Football lines have the Carolina Panthers favored at home over the New England Patriots. Will that still be the case when Monday rolls around?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 13 inclusive:

25-21-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

4-8-1 Totals

We truly live in interesting times. Not only do we get a rare high-quality matchup this week on Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), the NFL lines have also shaken things up by making the Carolina Panthers 2-point home faves over the beloved New England Patriots. Curiouser and curiouser.

But how long will this last? Our consensus reports show roughly 60 percent support for the Patriots, and while we don’t have enough data for expanded numbers as we go to press, it looks like the bettors among us with deeper pockets are throwing their money at the Pats. At this rate, New England could be the favorite even before the NFL betting public starts pouring in this weekend.

Chowderheads

In case this is your first trip to the football betting rodeo, the Patriots (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) are usually cast in the role of public favorites. Everyone loves QB Tom Brady and his supermodel wife and his three Super Bowl rings. When they flood the marketplace and bet on the Patriots, the NFL odds move in the other direction, trying to get people to bet on the other team. That makes it harder for New England to cover the spread.

That doesn’t mean the sharps never bet on the Patriots. Over the past decade or so, this has been one of the best offenses ever put on a football field, coached to near-perfection by Bill Belichick. New England has had plenty of success against the NFL point spread during the regular season – it’s when the Pats get deeper into the playoffs that the betting public puts it in overdrive and really screws things up.

Tommy Can You Hear Me

Having said all that, this is not one of New England’s finest seasons. With all the turnover in offensive personnel, Brady’s downfield options have been curtailed, and he’s having arguably the worst season of his 14-year NFL career. Check out these numbers:

57.1 percent completion rate, 13 TDs, six INTs, 82.7 passer rating

Plus-151 passing DYAR (No. 20 overall), minus-4.9 percent DVOA (No. 21), 56.9 QBR (No. 17)

Brady’s managed to keep his interception rate low (1.8 percent), but otherwise, he’s performing at a very average level. He’s in the statistical company of guys like Mike Glennon, Alex Smith and (gulp) Matt Cassel. Looking at the bigger picture, New England’s offense ranks No. 14 in efficiency this year. Thankfully for Pats fans, the defense has improved to No. 10 in the league, and the No. 5-ranked special teams have kept the field short enough for Brady that New England checks in at No. 7 on the overall efficiency charts.

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Cat People

Good stuff, but the Panthers (6-3 SU and ATS) are even better at No. 3 overall, with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. And head coach Ron Rivera is no longer sabotaging his team’s chances with conservative play-calling on offense. The ‘Cats are on a 5-0 SU and ATS run, and they certainly deserve to be considered the favorites at home in this matchup.

But they barely are. That 2-point spread says the betting market still sees the Patriots as the superior team on neutral ground. And again, the NFL betting lines could easily flip over the weekend and make New England the favorite. This certainly seems like a good spot to fade the Pats. However, a caveat: They’ve covered their last six games as the underdog stretching back to 2010, and 11 of 13 going back to 2006. A bet on Carolina this week states that you believe this simply isn’t the same Patriots team.

NFL Pick: Take the Panthers –1 (–115) at Bodog