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Panthers favored heavily over Jets on Sunday
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 12/15/2013  at  4:31:00 AM
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NEW YORK JETS (6-7)
at CAROLINA PANTHERS (9-4)

Kickoff: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Line: Carolina -11, Total: 40.5

After being beaten soundly last week, the Panthers look for a big bounce-back effort Sunday versus the Jets.

New York scored a season-high 37 points in a 10-point win versus Oakland last week, but is just 1-5 SU (2-4 ATS) on the road this year, where it has been outscored by an average of 31 to 13. Carolina fell 31-13 in New Orleans last Sunday night, but has destroyed its past five visitors by an average score of 31 to 10, outgaining them by 431 total yards with a +8 turnover margin. The Jets have the worst turnover margin in the NFL at minus-18 with rookie QB Geno Smith producing 24 miscues (20 INT, 4 FL). New York holds a 3-2 SU edge all-time in this series, but the Panthers are 3-0 ATS at home versus the Jets. Most of the betting trends points towards Carolina, like its 9-1 ATS record (90%) in the past two seasons after allowing 99 or less rushing yards in two straight games, or its 55-22 ATS mark (71%) versus bad defenses (24+ PPG allowed) since 1992. But New York is 3-1 ATS (75%) as a road underdog of 7.5 to 14 points over the past three seasons, including 2-0 ATS this year. The Jets could be missing both top CB Antonio Cromartie (concussion, questionable) and WR Stephen Hill (knee, doubtful), while the Panthers will be missing RB Jonathan Stewart (knee).

Can Carolina cover the monster spread on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts continue to flourish, combining for a 56% ATS record (53-41-6) over the past seven weeks. StatFox Brian has a 65% ATS (22-12-2) mark in Best Bets since Week 7, and is 56% ATS (30-24-4) this season. StatFox Scott is 9-5 ATS in the past three weeks of Best Bets, and is 54% ATS (27-23-2) this season, including 62% ATS (24-15-1) in Best Bets since Week 4. StatFox Gary has six perfect weeks in Best Bets since Week 4, and is 5-2 ATS in the past three weeks.

The Jets' offense has been pretty miserable with the league's second-fewest points (17.4 PPG) and third-fewest yards (308 YPG). Their inefficiency in both the red zone (47% touchdown rate, 28th in NFL) and on third down (35%, 24th in league) has not helped the cause. QB Geno Smith has had a few strong games in his rookie year, but still has more than twice as many interceptions (20) as touchdowns (9), completing only 55% of his passes for 2,475 yards (7.0 YPA). He's also been sacked 39 times, but has been able to score four rushing touchdowns. In his six road games, Smith has thrown for only 1,091 yards (182 YPG, 6.7 YPA) with 4 TD and 12 INT, while taking 23 sacks. No New York receiver has scored more than three touchdowns through the air, and WR Jeremy Kerley's pedestrian numbers lead the team in both receptions (32) and receiving yards (388). The Jets have stayed in the playoff hunt due to a quality ground game that ranks 11th in the league in rushing yards (126 YPG) and 13th in yards per carry (4.3 YPC). Smith ran for 50 of the team's 143 yards last week on just five carries, while bruising RB Chris Ivory picked up 76 yards on 18 attempts (4.2 YPC) with a touchdown. Ivory (639 rush yards, 4.4 YPC, 3 TD) has been more effective than speedier RB Bilal Powell (530 rush yards, 3.8 YPC, 1 TD) which is why he gets the bulk of the rushing workload. Although New York's defense is allowing 25.9 PPG (T-23rd in NFL), a lot of that is due to poor field position that the turnover-prone offense has put the unit in. The Jets rank 11th in the league in total defense (338 YPG) and 10th in yards per play (5.1), and have been nasty to opposing ball carriers with 83 rushing YPG allowed (2nd in league) on an NFL-best 3.1 YPC allowed. They have also gotten key stops in both the red zone (49% touchdown rate, T-5th in league) and on third down (35%, 8th in NFL). New York has done this despite forcing only 10 turnovers for the season (2nd-fewest in league).

Carolina has been excellent at home, going 5-1 (SU and ATS) and outscoring opponents by a hefty 16.2 PPG, with 26.7 PPG scored and just 10.5 PPG allowed. But overall, the offense hasn't been great, ranking 29th in passing offense (192 YPG), 27th in yards per play (5.0) and 26th in total offense (321 YPG). But the Panthers have been able to score a respectable 22.9 PPG (17th in NFL) because they rank fourth in the league in both red-zone efficiency (63% touchdown rate) and on third downs (46%). QB Cam Newton has posted average passing numbers (62% completions, 2,776 yards, 6.9 YPA, 20 TD, 11 INT), but has been able to make big plays with his legs all year, helping his team control the football for 33:06 (2nd in NFL). His 495 rushing yards (5.6 YPC) and six touchdowns have contributed greatly to his team's 129 rushing YPG (T-8th in league). With RB Jonathan Stewart (180 rush yards, 3.8 YPC) out, the bulk of the rushing workload will go to RB DeAngelo Williams (662 rush yards, 4.0 YPC, 2 TD) and bruising RB Mike Tolbert (313 rush yards, 3.9 YPC, 4 TD). This ground-heavy attack has kept turnovers to a minimum, as the team has committed only seven giveaways in its past nine games. The Panthers defense didn't have many answers for Drew Brees and the Saints last week, but this unit is still among the best in the NFL, leading the league in scoring defense (14.5 PPG allowed), rushing defense (79 YPG) and first downs allowed (16.8 per game). It is also tied for first in red-zone defense (39% touchdown rate), second in total defense (296 YPG) and fifth in both third-down defense (34%) and passing defense (217 YPG). This unit has also been effective in taking the football away, forcing multiple turnovers in nine of 13 games this season.

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