3* Panthers : I would wait to put this in as line currently sits at a Pick, and public is still all over SF so never know - this line may get back up to +2.5 where I would suggest hook to get +3 in what should be a close game. My summary: this line is off IMO, and we have already seen some movement with Carolina money pushing this down towards a pick. I set this # at CAR favored by more than a FG, but figured it would be adjusted some because of the public's love affair with SF - but this was too much of a move. I also typically like to take teams that are seeking revenge in the same season like SF is here, but think Carolina matches up well against SF negating that some. In the first matchup between these teams neither team did much offensively, and there was a 0 TOM - so no impact there obviously. What we did see is Kaepernick under pressure a ton, and he was outplayed by Newton in the Stick - hard to see a scenario where CK outplays Newton in Carolina this Sunday, especially through the air. Both teams will struggle moving the ball, turnovers will be of the utmost importance (SF is way overdue for a bad TOM game), but I look for the Carolina defense to make a few big plays and be the difference. Also of note is 3rd downs - Carolina's offense ranks 4th while SF's defense is 5th; on flip side SF's offense is 15th while Carolina's defense is 10th - considering both teams are extremely strong on both sides of the ball in first downs rushing (which shows success on early downs as well as physicality picking up short 3rd downs running the ball) expect the QB who plays better to lead his team to the win - both QBs can and will run the rock, who does it better especially on 3rd downs could be the difference. I have the Panthers rated higher in my performance ratings, and the difference in this game will be the Panthers defense vs. the Niners offense.
4* Broncos : I am all over Denver in this game. I set this # above 10 in all my models, but only one of the models shows a variance above 3pts which is the cut-off for showing value. One thing to remember about the earlier meeting between these teams in Denver was both DRC & Welker missed the game for Denver - they will both be back as will Champ Bailey. San Diego's defense is just bad, there arent many ways around that. They are yielding 4.5ypc, 7.2yppa - two areas Denver will take advantage of. Expect a heavy dose of Knowshon Moreno setting up passing plays down the field; on flip side the Broncos will stack the box against the Chargers rushing attack and make Rivers beat their man to man coverage - a coverage that will now have DRC and Bailey in there compared to 2nd stringers last time around. SD is easily the least efficient team remaining in the playoffs checking in at just 24th in the NFL in yards per point offensively; Denver is #1 in that area, and doesn't figure to be impacted negatively in any way in this game because they are at home, and have Welker back in the slot. Losing to the Bolts actually helps Denver in this spot as does losing to the Ravens last season - expect Denver to play extremely well.
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