Welcome to the 2012-13 edition of NFL Marketwatch, where the team at Sports Insights gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the NFL point spread market.
Every week we analyze the sports betting marketplace to pinpoint which games the public are chasing and which the sharps are pounding.
Overall Record: 4-3 (57.1%)
The goal of this weekly column is to highlight games that offer true line value. Often if a line looks too good to be true, there is a reason. You’ll occasionally need the worst teams on the board to come through. We typically buy on bad news and sell on good.
Carolina Panthers (3-9) vs. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) – 12/9 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Our NFL best bets have won at a 57% rate this season and NFL Marketwatch is in the midst of its eighth consecutive winning season. In fact, since 2005, NFL Marketwatch has posted a 171-126 record (57.6%) by taking teams that the public refuses to touch. This week’s matchup between the Panthers and Falcons is no different.
With last week’s victory over the Saints, the Falcons moved to 11-1 on the season and clinched the NFC South division title. Quarterback Matt Ryan has been in the thick of the MVP conversation and the team looks primed to lock up a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
On the other side, the Carolina Panthers have been an absolute train wreck this season. After posting six wins a season ago, Carolina was a trendy preseason sleeper. Fans and analysts alike expected Cam Newton to cement himself as one of the league’s elite players, and even members of the team (like starting center Ryan Kalil) were making lofty Super Bowl predictions. Instead, the team has managed just three wins and are reeling from a loss to an anemic Chiefs squad.
Despite the vast gap between these two teams this season, Atlanta opened as just a 3.5-point favorite at CRIS. Perhaps that explains why, according to our NFL betting trends, the Falcons are currently receiving 75% of spread bets and 84% of parlay wagers.
In spite of this extremely lop-sided public betting, the line has actually dropped a half-point to the key number of 3. This reverse line movement is a strong indicator that sharp money is coming down on the home dog in his NFC South rivalry.
The table below shows a breakdown of the spread betting percentages from our seven contributing sportsbooks.
This game fits into our betting against the public philosophy, but there have been a number of other sharp money indicators as well. Earlier this week, there was a Smart Money move triggered on Carolina at Bet Mania, which has gone 8-5 and produced a profit of +2.08 units this season.
The chart below shows the changes in spread betting percentages and line movement since this game opened at CRIS.
Additionally, on Thursday we posted an article to the blog which detailed the performance of late season home underdogs in the NFL. Since the start of the 2003 season, home dogs of 2 or more points have gone 120-103 — good for +10.15 units won and a 4.6% return on investment.
With that in mind, we encourage you to shop for the best line, fade the public, and take the home dog in this NFC South matchup.
Game to Watch:
Carolina Panthers +3.5
Enjoy the games!