Freedman’s NFL Week 7 Trends & Early Bets: Panthers in Sweet Spot as Divisional Underdogs
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: The Panthers defense celebrates an interception.
Minus the now not-so-rare midseason Monday Night Football doubleheader, we are onto Week 7.
Let’s take a look at some applicable trends for the early lines.
Although I am not a trends bettor, I find that trends help me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games. Using our Bet Labs database, I have uncovered some intriguing NFL trends for five games this week.
All lines are from our NFL Odds page.
Early Week 7 NFL Picks
Click on a pick to skip to that analysis.
|Titans-Steelers Over 52.5|
|Panthers +7.5 at Saints|
|Cardinals +3.5 at Seahawks|
|Chiefs -8.5 at Broncos|
|Jaguars +8 at Chargers|
Titans-Steelers Over 52.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS
History is very much a flat circle.
This matchup between two unbeaten teams was originally slated for Week 4, but was postponed to Week 7 because of the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak.
Both teams are near the top of the league in scoring. The Titans have averaged 32.8 points per game this year; the Steelers, 31.2.
It’s unlikely that either team will maintain its pace for the entire season, but I nevertheless expect a high-scoring game this week.
And this isn’t just a 2020 thing for the Titans. In quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s 15 regular-season starts with the team, the over is 13-2, good for a 71.3% return on investment (ROI, per our Bet Labs database).
In Tannehill’s nine starts at Nissan Stadium, the over is 8-1 (76.2% ROI).
- Action: Over 52.5 (-110) at DraftKings
- Limit: 55.0 (-110)
Panthers (+7.5) at Saints
The Panthers intrigue me this week for a couple of reasons.
First, I’ve noticed that road underdogs tend to outperform against the spread (ATS) when they play within their division.
- Divisional Road Dogs: 544-479-33 ATS | 3.6% ROI
- Non-Divisional Road Dogs: 913-888-56 ATS | -1.0% ROI
A 3.6% ROI might not seem like much, but over a sample this large it’s significant. And we can dig further into this sample to discover more value.
I have this theory: When divisional opponents play early in the year, they are usually facing each other for the first time. In this situation, road dogs have an edge in the market, which is still rather inefficient as the season takes shape.
Later in the year, when divisional rivals rematch, they are more familiar with each other and their markets are more efficient, which puts road dogs at a disadvantage.
At least that’s my theory, and the regular-season numbers suggest I might be right.
- Divisional Road Dogs (Sep. – Nov.): 358-285-23 ATS | 8.5% ROI
- Divisional Road Dogs (Dec. – Jan.): 186-194-10 ATS | -4.6% ROI
In the middle of October, the Panthers are in the sweet spot of this trend.
On top of that, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for his career has been an ATS dominator.
- All Situations: 30-10 ATS | 47% ROI
- Underdog: 20-5 ATS | 56.6% ROI
- Visitor: 16-3 ATS | 64.4% ROI
- Road Underdog: 15-2 ATS | 72.5% ROI
These Panthers are live cats.
- Action: Panthers +7.5 (-114) at DraftKings
- Limit: +3.5 (-110)
Cardinals (+3.5) vs. Seahawks
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: FOX
The Cardinals play on Monday Night Football, so this line hasn’t officially opened, but the lookahead line at FanDuel is up.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is 72-54-7 ATS (11.2% ROI) for his regular-season career. Betting against him is usually a stupid idea.
But I’ve got a stupid idea for Week 7: Let’s bet against Wilson.
Under HC Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been at their best in three distinct situations (regular season only).
- As Underdogs: 36-22-3 ATS | 20.5% ROI
- At Home: 46-34-3 ATS | 12.2% ROI
- Outside Division: 57-42-6 ATS | 11.5% ROI
In this game, the Seahawks are on the opposite side of all these splits: They are divisional road favorites, and it has historically been profitable to fade the Seahawks as such.
As for the Cardinals, they are 10-4-2 ATS (34.7% ROI) as underdogs under HC Kliff Kingsbury.
I could see this line moving toward the Seahawks after it opens: They are 5-0 and coming off the bye. With that in mind, I’m waiting to bet the Cardinals until later in the week and hoping to catch a better number. But if the spread is still +3.5 by Thursday or Friday, I’ll bet it then.
- Action: Cardinals +3.5 (-115) at FanDuel
- Limit: +3.5 (-115)
Chiefs (-8.5) at Broncos
The Chiefs play on Monday Night Football, so this line hasn’t officially opened, but the lookahead line at FanDuel is up.
I’m comfortable betting this number now, because if the Chiefs beat the Bills, who are playing on a short week, the spread against the Broncos could reach -10.
With the Chiefs, HC Andy Reid has markedly overperformed in two situations (regular season only).
- On Road: 37-19-1 ATS | 29.8% ROI
- In Division: 28-15-1 ATS | 27.7% ROI
On the road inside the AFC West, Reid is 16-5 ATS (49.8% ROI).
Insert here Andy Reid dancing gif. (Note to editor: Don’t actually insert a gif. I’m joking.)
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 26-13-2 ATS (30.7% ROI) for his career, including postseason.
- Action: Chiefs -9.5 (-110) at FanDuel
- Limit: -10 (-110)
Jaguars (+8) at Chargers
I’ve heard some bettors talk about how East Coast teams are disadvantaged when they travel West and play in an afternoon game. I guess the general idea is that their biorhythms are off or their schedules are altered or something like that.
Maybe all of that is true, but it hasn’t been a profitable angle to bet. In fact, fading that narrative has generally been sharp.
Since 2003 (that’s as far back as our database goes), East Coast teams are 107-87-8 ATS (6.7% ROI) when playing an afternoon game on the West Coast.
And it’s not as if the Chargers are an imposing team. They are 4-1 ATS (56.2% ROI) this year and coming off the bye, but that’s partially why they’ll be overvalued this week.
I’ve been impressed by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, but HC Anthony Lynn simply cannot be trusted. There might not be a coach in the league more capable of ruining the natural advantage he should have as a home favorite.
Against Lynn’s Chargers, road dogs are 13-6-1 ATS (31.1% ROI).
- Action: Jaguars +8 (-110) at DraftKings
- Limit: +7 (-110)
Matthew Freedman is 680-545-26 (55.5%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
The Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, Freedman is commonly called the Oracle & the Labyrinthian.