The Panthers said goodbye to their longtime coach on Tuesday, in the wake of a home loss to Washington. While it’s understandable Panthers ownership is looking to start fresh, Rivera has put up a resume that should ensure he’s back in a head job quickly.
Standard metrics will tell you that Rivera went 76-63-1 as Carolina’s coach, good for a 54.6% winning percentage. But because this is a gambling column, I wanted to dive a little deeper into Rivera’s performance using historical betting information available at the site Team Rankings.
Rivera took over the Panthers head job after the 2010 season, and since 2011, the team has covered in 53.8% of its games (including playoffs). That’s tied with the Chiefs for the eighth-best performance against the spread in that timespan.
But his performance looks even more impressive when you rank by ATS margin, meaning how much better or worse a team did versus the spread. In those terms, the Panthers posted a +1.0 ATS margin, so over the course of almost 150 games, Carolina performed a point better in each on average since the start of 2011. How good is that? The Panthers rank sixth in the metric over that span, just behind Sean Payton’s Saints at +1.1 ATS margin. The Patriots (+3.4) rank first, then the Seahawks (+2.9), the Ravens (+2.2), the Chiefs (+1.6), the Saints and then Rivera’s Panthers.
Need someone to beat expectations? Rivera’s your man.
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Big line moves (lookaheads)
Lookaheads are lines that are posted for matchups before the previous week’s games. Analyzing the biggest movers is beneficial for smart bettors, who have a chance to examine those moves to determine whether there’s value in playing against a potential overreaction. Last week, fading the big moves went 2-1.
The huge line move this week comes courtesy of Arizona after the Cardinals got thoroughly waxed by the Rams on Sunday. With Duck Hodges managing to lead the Steelers to a win as home underdogs, that moved this week’s Steelers-Cardinals matchup a whopping 4.5 points. My power ratings say the correct line is somewhere in the middle.
That Browns loss coupled with the Bengals win moved their matchup two points, while the Jets losing to the Bengals and the Dolphins beating the Eagles moved their matchup two points as well. The Jaguars curiously lost a couple points in their matchup with the Chargers despite switching to the better quarterback, a move that seemed to give the team some life in the second half of their loss to the Bucs. And the Seahawks’ win on Monday Night Football wasn’t enough to stave off a notable move to the Rams following their blowout of Arizona.
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Where DVOA disagrees with line
Part of my research each week is calculating the DVOA as tracked by Football Outsiders and seeing where the metric has a significant disagreement with the market. For this section, I employ the weighted DVOA statistic, which puts more emphasis on more recent games.
As has been the case lately, DVOA is marking the Lions as a value, but that also includes a good portion of the season with Matthew Stafford. When also taking into account that David Blough, who looked solid on Thanksgiving, has to go on the road and play in one of the league’s toughest home environments, the two points that my metric says the line is off disappears pretty quickly.
The Colts are still considered a well above-average team by DVOA’s standards when only accounting for games started by Jacoby Brissett, and with that caveat in place our metric has this game as about a pick ’em, with Indy having the slight edge. If you were to account for each team’s entire body of work, they’d be about even on a neutral field.
The biggest head-scratcher of the week when evaluating DVOA comes in Chargers-Jaguars, where the metric suggests there isn’t even enough of a gap between the two teams to erase home-field advantage, listing the projected line as Jaguars -1. My power rating line has a similar projection, but maybe this will be the week the Chargers stop making a bunch of little mistakes that have doomed them to a 4-8 record.
The Steelers-Cardinals line is projected to be a pick ’em, but like with some of the other matchups in this section, DVOA is accounting for several games with a different starting quarterback, which helps to lower Pittsburgh’s rating.
Fading the public
UPDATE: This didn’t exactly work in our favor — thanks Jason Garrett!
If 80% of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. All betting trends data is from Sports Insights as of Tuesday night.
This week no games actually meet our 80% mark, but the three above come close, with each at 77%. Something to keep in mind before you throw all three in a parlay together.
Underdog parlay of the week
Panthers +130 at Falcons
Jaguars +145 vs. Chargers
Chiefs +140 at Patriots
Here’s a moneyline parlay that would pay out about +1250 if it hits. The first team in is the Panthers, as we often see a team focus after a head coach firing and play better. Of course, the Rivera dismissal could be a little bit different since he still seemed beloved by his players, but we’re going to roll with them regardless here. The second team in is the Jaguars, as they should see a bump in performance after the QB switch and appear to have great value on their line, while the Chargers continue to find new ways to lose each week. And finally, the Chiefs make it in as another team that could have some value after the Pats look to have taken a step back over the last few weeks.
We hit on two of our three underdogs last week, with the Steelers and Bengals pulling off the win. Congratulations if you paired those teams together in a moneyline parlay.
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Teaser of the week
This teaser is all about fading teams going on the road after surprise wins. Drew Lock didn’t impress despite Denver winning his debut, while the Texans defense had an incredible game against Tom Brady and Co. The Browns can be a mess in any given day, but they should be safe this week against a Bengals team that now has the pressure of avoiding a winless season lifted off its shoulders. Other teasable teams include the Ravens, 49ers and Eagles, in particular.
The teaser of the week is just 6-7 this year after a 12-5 run in 2018, with Carolina proving to be a terrible play to pair with Green Bay. Hopefully you swapped them out for the Steelers, another team I loved last week.