Originally written on The Pass Rush  |  Last updated 9/18/12


We escaped Monday Night with a win thanks to our Monday Night teaser special with the Broncos (+10) & Over 44. My initial gut feeling was to be all over the Falcons (-3), but there was lots of chatter of a Peyton Manning outright win, so I figured, there’s no way Peyton will lose by double digits on Monday Night, right? Well, he almost did, but we got the cover with our teaser thanks to an attempted 4th quarter comeback. We nailed our Sunday and Monday night picks to continue the momentum into week 3. We are now just three days away from a Thursday Night game between the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants.

NEW YORK GIANTS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS (+1.5)

Week 2 Recap

Both the Giants and the Panthers got their first win of the season last week. Eli Manning fueled a 2nd half comeback as he threw for over 500 yards and won 41-34. The Giants were down 24-13 at the half and I was delighted with my Bucs (+7.5) pick. The Giants were then down 27-16 going into the 4th until Eli Manning went HAM on the Buccaneers defense posting 25 points in the 4th quarter to win 41-34. And I still got the cover by 1/2 point.

The Panthers took care of business at home against the Saints as I predicted. The final score 35-27. The Panthers put up 463 yards of offense, but also allowed 486 yards to the Saints. Drew Brees’ early pick-six was the difference in that one. The Panthers also put up over 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards. Cam Newton was extremely efficient 14/20, 253 yards, 12.7 YPA, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, 0 INT, 71 rushing yards, 129.2 QB rating.

Thursday Night Factor

The theme I think you see play out on Thursday night games is the home team covering the spread about two-thirds of the time. We saw that this past Thursday when the Packers took on the Bears. The visiting team is at such a huge disadvantage to go on the road with just three days of rest. That’s likely why you saw the Bears offense sputter as Cutler threw for a mere 126 yards and tossed 4 INTs to the Green Bay defense. If that game was played on Sunday rather than Thursday, I think you would see a much better performance from both teams.

In 2011, the home team on Thursday Night was 6-2 straight up. The Raiders beat the Chargers in week 10 and the Cowboys beat the Bucs in week 15 (no surprise there). Notable upsets from last year on Thursday Night include the Colts beating the Texans in week 16 and the Seahawks destroying the Eagles in week 13. It was the same story in 2010. In 2010, the home team on Thursday Night was 6-2 straight up. The only two teams that won on the road in 2010 on Thursday Night was the Bears over the Dolphins and Colts over the Titans.

Betting Trends

Where is the early money going? It’s flowing on the Giants. 64% like the Giants and 63% like the over. I think it’s a mistake to go with the Giants on the road. I’m going with the Panthers in this one.

Vegas was even thinking of making the Panthers the favorite in this one! As I’ve also been preaching, do not bet against home dogs. This past week the home dogs were 5-1 ATS and are now 8-3 ATS on the season.

Analysis

I already like the Panthers due to the Thursday Night at home factor (home teams are 12-4 on Thursday night in the last 2 years) and the home-dog factor (home dogs are 8-3 ATS this year). The Giants defense has also been exposed in the first two weeks. They’ve given up 29 PPG (ranked 25th) and 370 YPG (ranked 19th). The Panthers have some defensive issues as well, no doubt about that, but the Giants defense has been a huge concern. Now they have to go on the road with a short week and try to shut down Cam Newton at home — a tall task if you ask me.

The injury bug is also after the Giants. RB Ahmad Bradshaw is questionable with a neck injury. I doubt that he plays on Thursday. OT David Diehl injured his MCL and is not expected to play Thursday. WR Domenik Hixon had a concussion last week and is not expected to play Thursday night. LB Keith Rivers was out this past week with a hamstring injury, but may return this week. Backup DT Marvin Austin may sit this one out with a back injury as well.

I’m expecting a heavy dose of the Panthers running attack which will keep the defense honest and allow Cam Newton to work his magic at home. The Giants offense can keep up with anyone though. As Eli Manning showed you last week, you can never count him out. I don’t want to bet too heavy against the Giants since I would take the Giants on a neutral field, but I just can’t ignore the home-dog factor on a Thursday Night. This is worth a small play on the Panthers for me and another game that Vegas scores big on with the public riding the road favorite only to be let down again.

Quick thoughts on the over/under. The over/under is set at a high 51.5. Two explosive offenses with suspect defenses are squaring off which should lead to a lot of scoring. If this was on Sunday, I would like the over, but on a Thursday Night, I would stay away. You saw two lethargic offenses last Thursday and a with quick look at past Thursday Night results from 2010 and 2011, the majority of those games and low scoring. Both teams went over in week 2 after going under in week 1. The over is 6-0 in the Giants last 6 as 0.5-3.0 favorites. The over is 7-0 after the Panthers give up 350+ total yards in the previous game. The over is 4-0 in the Panthers last four following a win. These silly trends favor the over. You may want to tease the Panthers to +8.5 and take the over 44.5 as some extra insurance on the Panthers knowing that the Panthers defense will keep the Giants in this one.

Prediction: Panthers 31 – Giants 28

Pick Against the Spread: Panthers +1.5 (Confidence: 6/10)

Teaser Pick: Panthers (+8.5) & Over 44.5 (Confidence: 7/10)

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