The Giants are a small source of irritation for me. As a Michigan fan, and thus a Tom Brady fan, the Giants have taken two Super Bowls away from my preferred winner. Even more irritating, they weren’t supposed to win either time. That isn’t just a claim made on the fact that they were underdogs in both 2007 and 2011, but the Giants simply weren’t great teams either time. The Giants were 9-7 last year, and actually outscored for the season. Put another way, five teams had better records and nine teams had better point differentials… in the NFC alone. In 2007 they were 10-6 and had a positive differential, but still made the playoffs as a wild card (they were tied for third best record in the NFC and were still only 8th in point differential). So it is with some pleasure that tomorrow night, when the Giants get singled out with a Thursday night game, I can say once again that they should lose.
That isn’t just my opinion. The SBR consensus is that the Panthers are favored by almost a field goal, paired with a money line of -140/+130. That implies that the Panthers should win about 58% of the time. Neither of those numbers are insurmountable, obviously (the Cardinals beat the Patriots as 13.5 underdogs when the Pats went off at -800), but I think some people would find it surprising that the defending Super Bowl champs are underdogs to the (somewhat) lowly Panthers. It’s fair enough that the Giants have some injuries, but even before that they were at best 1 point favorites.
A quick look at the team efficiencies tells you why. The teams are roughly tied on defense, but the Panthers are actually a more efficient offensive team. When you take the numbers are run them through my models, here are the predictions: Luigi has the Panthers winning by just under 3 points, or 55% of the time. It thinks the total score will hit 51, compared to the over/under of 49. Yoshi 1 agrees with the 55% for the Panthers but puts the difference at only .8 points and has the total at 43. Finally, Yoshi 2 has predictions of 3, 56.7%, and just under 50 points. So strictly speaking, Luigi and Yoshi 2 would pick the Panthers to cover while Yoshi 1 would take the Giants. However, Luigi and Yoshi 2 would actually stay away since the prediction is so close to the actual line. Luigi and Yoshi 1 narrowly think that the Giants are worth a look as outright winners while Yoshi 2 has no choice. Luigi and Yoshi 2 also think that the total will go over (Yoshi 2 just barely) while Yoshi 1 is taking the under.