Can a social-media scandal influence the odds for an NFL game?
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton has been all over the news this week – for all of the wrong reasons. The quarterback was giving a routine presser for beat reporters when he laughed and told a female journalist that hearing her talk about football was “funny.”
Newton was forced to record and publish a video apology after a tremendous backlash that included sponsors dropping him. Facebook and Twitter exploded, but bettors had almost no reaction. The thin point spread for the Panthers vs Lions is holding steady.
An experienced locker room like Carolina’s won’t let a social-justice row become a distraction. But will Newton be booed in Detroit? No matter how the fans feel, we know how the Lions feel about the prospect of Superman having another big day on Sunday. And at 3-1, the hosts are anything but a cupcake.
Who: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
When: Sunday, October 8th, 1 PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Lines: Panthers (+3) at Lions (-3) / O/U Total: (43)
As we’ve discussed on BetFirm in the past, a field-goal point spread is problematic. Since most NFL games are decided before the closing seconds, wagering on a “virtual money line” is risky.
But the O/U total of (43) points seems a little low. This is a contest between 2 gun-slingers, Newton and talented Detroit QB Matthew Stafford. Each squad has a fine defense, but neither is playing shut-down football. Let’s take a look at the offenses of each team and gauge if a 27-21 (or higher) final score would be out of the ordinary.
The Carolina attack seemed to hit a low point in the team’s Week 2 win over Buffalo, by the – ahem – impressive final score 9-3. No touchdowns were scored in the game. Newton actually didn’t play that bad, except for one crucial stat – he was sacked 6 times for 50 yards lost, offsetting a chunk of his 228 yards passing.
2 weeks later, and HC Ron Rivera decided to turn Newton loose running the read-option and passing all over the field against the Patriots. The result was a “jailbreak” game in which the Panthers piled up 450+ yards and 33 points, beating Tom Brady and the Pats 33-30.
As for Detroit, Stafford is still a top-tier passer throwing darts to receivers such as Golden Tate. Detroit was impressive on offense through most of the preseason and Weeks 1 through 3, but dropped off in a 14-7 road win over Minnesota last weekend.
In that game, however, the Lions held the ball for 36+ minutes and rode the legs of RB Ameer Abdullah, while their defense forced and recovered 3 fumbles. It’s an outlier result because a TOP advantage of 10 or more minutes almost always leads to scoring more than twice. Put simply, Detroit didn’t open up – and didn’t score much – precisely because they didn’t need to.
Take the over. We’re expecting a clear-headed Newton to use his mobility to avoid the Detroit pass rush, and Stafford will continue producing at a terrific clip. There’s at least a 60% chance that each team will score at least 3 touchdowns, making (45) total points a far-too-conservative line by the bookies.