Written By Billy Attridge
Time flies when you’re having fun. Just three weeks left in the regular season as both conferences heat up with extremely competitive playoff races down the stretch. Two games we’ll touch on this week reside in the NFC. Saturday night, Carolina heads to Green Bay as they attempt to play spoiler and soil the Packers aspirations of the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout. Our second break down features Tampa Bay’s trip to Atlanta for an NFC South division game; does the dog have enough bark and will the line reach the all-important key number of 7? As always, the goal is to find out what, but more importantly, WHY prices have moved. This is not a “picks piece” but rather a look into the logic behind lines moves in the market and where games could possible head. As a weekly tradition, I fast forward to NFL Week 16 look ahead lines from FanDuel Sportsbook. You can Place All Your Bets at Fanduel.com/BetTheBoard and start with a Risk Free $1,000! That’s right, your first bet up to $1,000 is on the house.
Carolina Panthers +9 (-110) @ Green Bay Packers:
With Green Bay’s win over Detroit Sunday, the Packers not only wrapped up the North title but they’re in pole position for the NFC’s #1 overall seed. Now 9-point favorites at home against Carolina, we might be seeing the Packers peak stock price. Carolina enters Lambeau off of a home loss to Denver, one in which they were without one of their main offensive pieces in receiver D.J. Moore. Lucky for Carolina, Moore is ready to go Saturday, and that could mean trouble for Green Bay’s defense. Despite facing the 6th toughest schedule of opposing defenses this year, Carolina ranks #9 in overall offensive efficiency, and #8 in offensive pass efficiency. With a very strong trio of pass catchers in Moore, Samuel and Anderson, paired with genius offensive coordinator Joe Brady, the Panthers look to exploit a Packers pass defense that’s #17 in defensive pass efficiency. Green Bay’s defense has been anything but stellar against the run as well, ranking 22nd in defensive rush efficiency, so if Carolina chooses to attack them on the ground, I’m not comfortable saying Green Bay can eliminate that aspect. All that said, the reason Green Bay is favored by more than a touchdown is their offense. The Packers are #1 in offensive efficiency and if I’m being kind, the Panthers defense is not good. Aaron Rodgers will have success here, so this game will be about whether or not Joe Brady can formulate a game plan and Teddy Bridgewater and the offense can execute it. Carolina does a good job maintaining possession, and pro bettors believe the Panthers can go on long, sustained drives. That’s exactly why this number won’t touch 10, but will head the other direction and close soft 7.5 or even 7 despite heavy public support for Green Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons +6.5 (-110):
What an adjustment one week can make week. Prior to last Sunday’s results, FanDuel’s look-ahead line had Tampa Bay a 2.5-point favorite for their NFC South showdown against Atlanta. We are now at +6.5 this morning as Julio Jones and Ricardo Allen have officially been ruled out. The former is not a surprise, as Raheem Morris said he won’t rush Julio Jones back. Depending on the rest of the injury report for Atlanta, this number has the potential to rise even higher. Corner Darquez Dennard, tackle Kaleb McGary and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson were all held out of practice Thursday, so monitoring the status of these players and others will be vital to the direction this number will head. Kaleb McGary has been absent for a personal matter, not injury related, so he has a shot to go. Grady Jarrett got in a limited practice Thursday as he battles a groin issue. Past injuries, let’s talk about the game. Tampa Bay won and covered last week, but they didn’t pass the eye test. Minnesota controlled the game early, but multiple offensive trips to the Buccaneers green and red zones fizzled out. All told, Minnesota scored 14 points but had 5 other drives to the Tampa Bay 32, 11, 31, 8, and 48 yard lines that resulted in a grand total of ZERO points. Defensively for the Vikings, there were unfortunate personal foul and pass interference calls at the end of the half which really swung momentum Tampa Bay’s way. The difference between Atlanta and Minnesota schematically, is the Falcons want to throw the ball, which is the way you attack this Buccaneers defense that ranks 15th in defensive pass success rate. If you look at trending metrics which is important, the Buccaneers are 31st in passing success rate defense since Week 9. This time of the season inflation in the market becomes commonplace as teams playing in “must win” situations carry a premium against those mathematically eliminated. However, if you’ve been reading reports out of Atlanta, the Falcons are still playing for their jobs and these guys love Raheem Morris and want him to land the full-time gig, so if there is a question of effort or motivation, that point would appear null. This is a market, price matters. We don’t see enough to warrant a move like this in favor of Tampa Bay despite my personal numbers liking the Buccaneers more than the market this season. I don’t see this number hitting +7, but in the off-chance it does, it won’t last long as I expect a major buy on the Falcons at that price.
New Orleans -6.5 vs. Minnesota (Christmas Day)
Tampa Bay @ Detroit (N/A – Stafford; Saturday)
Arizona -3 vs. San Francisco (Saturday)
Las Vegas vs. Miami (N/A – Carr; Saturday)
Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 vs. Denver
Cleveland -10.5 @ New York Jets
Houston -8.5 vs. Cincinnati
Pittsburgh -3 vs. Indianapolis
Chicago -4.5 @ Jacksonville
Washington -2.5 vs. Carolina
Baltimore -9.5 vs. New York Giants
Kansas City -11.5 vs Atlanta
Seattle -1.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Dallas PICK’em vs. Philadelphia
Green Bay -4 vs. Tennessee (SNF)
Buffalo -4 @ New England (MNF)