Originally posted on The Football Fan Spot  |  Last updated 11/1/12
Carolina Panthers (1-6) at Washington Redskins (3-5) This is one of two trap lines I identified this week. According to this line, the Redskins and the Panthers are comparable teams with Washington as 3 point home favorites. However, Washington is at 3-5 and the Panthers are at 1-6. Because of that, the action is on Washington and yet, the line is still falling as it opened at -4. As is almost always the case, when something is too good to be true with betting, it usually is. Let’s look at some reasons why this line makes more sense than it first appears to. For one, the trends are against Washington. Favorites before being dogs off a loss as dogs are 56-81 ATS since 2008. That makes sense. This type of game tends to be a breather game. They’ve just suffered a loss to a tough opponent and they have enough tough opponent coming up. They could easily see this is an “easy win” game just to get back on track and get caught overlooking their opponent. The Redskins are coming off a loss to the Steelers and in their next game they host the Eagles and they probably will be dogs in that one. The Redskins are going on bye next, but that doesn’t seem to have much effect on this spread. Teams in this situation before a bye are 2-6 ATS since 2008. Going back to 1989 to get more of a sample size, teams are 22-33 ATS in this spot. Anyone can win on any given Sunday in the NFL and the Redskins aren’t good enough to overlook an opponent and still win. They are really just Robert Griffin. As we saw against Pittsburgh, they live and die with him. Carolina was the exact same way last season and they still are this year, with Cam Newton. Newton is struggling this year, but you have to like his chances to get back on track against Washington’s crappy defense. If that happens, the Panthers can definitely win a shootout. The Panthers are in a good spot as road dogs off of a road loss. Teams are 77-47 ATS as road dogs off a road loss. Off a road loss of 1-3, teams are 17-6 ATS as road dogs, including 14-5 ATS when their previous game was one in which they were dogs. If we go back to 2002 to get a larger sample size, those trends are 39-23 ATS and 32-17 ATS respectively. Looking at the methods of calculating real line, this line makes sense. Using the yards per play differential method, this one should actually be Carolina -0.5 thanks to Carolina’s 5th place rank in yards per play differential. However, Carolina is one of the reasons I decided to create a complimentary statistic known as rate of sustaining drives to use along with yards per play to determine “real” line. Yards per play overrates teams that get a lot of big plays, but struggle to stay on the field or don’t allow a lot of big plays, but struggle to get off the field defensively. Those are the exact same teams rate of sustaining drives differential underrates because what rate of sustaining drives differential cares about is how often you convert a given set of downs for a first down or a score in comparison to how often your defense allows the opponent to do so. Because of this, they work in tandem well together. Sure enough, Carolina is really bad in this statistic, ranking 29th. Still, in spite of that, that metric gives us a real line of just Washington -9. If we average those two out, we get right between -4 and -4.5. We’re getting a line bit of line value with the Redskins, but not much and it still makes this line make a lot more sense. Washington is awfully banged up right now and the trends favor Carolina. I’m not going to fall for this trap line, so I’m taking the road team. Public lean: Washington (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Carolina covers) Carolina Panthers 28 Washington Redskins 24 Upset Pick +160 Pick against spread: Carolina +3 (-100) 4 units
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