We’re now a quarter of the way through the 2017 NFL regular season. The Panthers travel to Detroit in our highlight game this week with both sides looking to build on a positive 3-1 record. What should you look at in the Panthers vs. Lions betting? Read on for an in-depth analysis of the Panthers vs. Lions odds.
Live Panthers vs. Lions odds
The perceived certainty in the pecking order from 2016 is being challenged by the randomness inherent in the NFL’s 16 regular season game format. The unbalanced schedule combined with the ever-present unpredictability also goes some way to highlighting the cyclical nature of performance across the divisions.
On the four matches from 2017, Detroit’s advantage stretches to four points and a slightly more defensively orientated total of 39 points.
Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Carolina, all fourth placed teams in their respective divisions in 2016, either lead or share the lead based on their win-loss records in 2017. Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots have already lost as many games as they did in the entire 2016 season making this season as unpredictable as ever when it comes to NFL betting.
Panthers vs. Lions betting: Recent performances could be key
So while last season does still hold valuable recent information, the evolution and development of teams and the constantly shifting randomness is by now making itself felt in the current season and bettors should be looking at some of the rate metrics achieved by teams in 2017 when analysing the Panthers vs. Lions odds.
The two NFC teams had contrasting fortunes in 2016. Detroit were a wildcard team in the North in 2016 after a losing record the previous year and currently edge Green Bay for top spot in that division by virtue of tiebreakers.
While Carolina, fresh off a 15-1 season in 2015, slumped to bottom of the pile in the South in 2016 and are currently lie just behind Atlanta, again on tiebreakers.
Carolina Panthers: Will Newton rediscover his form?
The Panthers and Lions, both with excellent top ten quarterbacks, adeptly illustrate the shifting fortunes within the NFL. Carolina is led by Cam Newton, who is coming off his poorest professional season following a Super Bowl defeat at the hands of Denver’s crushing defence in 2015.
Newton is again throwing with less efficiency than his four opponents as a group have allowed. Scoring is also below par for their opponents faced.
All of his key performance indicators declined in 2016, most notably his completion rate and his touchdown percentage. His yards per attempt rate also dipped and inevitably Carolina’s efficiency suffered.
They were below average in all notable aspects of offence, passing for fewer yards per attempt than their opponents usually allowed, the running game was similarly deficient. Although there were nine offences in the NFC that scored fewer points than the Panthers, Carolina faced some lightweight defences and were again below par for scoring.
It has been noted that Newton has followed a below par season with an above average effort in the past, but other factors, such as injury which was a factor in 2016 and teammates are also shifting contributors.
The needle has barely shifted in 2017, despite a 3-1 start. Once we strip out sack yards allowed, Newton is again throwing with less efficiency than his four opponents as a group have allowed. Scoring is also below par for their opponents faced, although last week’s win over New England was a season-high for both the team and Newton.
Unlike the Panthers, the Lions have a healthy - although perhaps unsustainable - league-best +9 turnover differential.
Their defence was marginally efficient in 2016 at defending both the run and pass and leaking an average of 25 points per game was a credible and par return faced with divisional rivals built on offence.
Four games from 2017 are inevitably statistically noisy, but pass defence and points allowed are pleasingly above par and at the moment they are an offence relying somewhat on their defensive side of the ball.
Their six win 2016 season was perhaps less reward than both their Pythagorean and record in close games deserved.
Detroit Lions: Why Stafford is so valuable
Detroit’s playmaker is Matt Stafford, currently the highest paid player ever in the NFL. This is obviously partly down to inflation of wages, but also due to the Lions wanting to keep a player who should be in his prime and has produced consistently high-quality performances after an interrupted beginning and often without a reliable supporting cast.
Last season they crept into the postseason, despite a poor Pythagorean and the boost of three more narrow wins than losses, any of which could have dropped them into a clutch of six other also-rans who were within two or fewer games of their nine game season.
On the defence, the 2017 Lions have been better through the air than on the ground and in a similar vein to Carolina have been difficult to score against.
Offensively they were around the same level as Carolina. Slightly above average through the air, they were inferior to Carolina on the ground and less able to turn possessions into points.
Defensively they bent more than broke, but allowed sides to move the ball by whatever means with relative ease and they were that rare occurrence of a postseason team who had a negative points differential.
Their current 3-1 record boasts a points differential of +29, but their underlying stats are less than impressive. Offensively, their efficiencies are below par, but they have still managed to outscore their opponent’s defence by nearly a field goal compared to their collective average.
On the defence, the 2017 Lions have been better through the air than on the ground and in a similar vein to Carolina have been difficult to score against. However, unlike the Panthers, who have one of the worst turnover differentials so far, the Lions have a healthy, although perhaps unsustainable league-best +9.
Based on last season’s matchups, Detroit with home field would be three-point favourites with the total posted at around 43 points. While solely on the four matches from 2017, Detroit’s advantage stretches to four points and a slightly more defensively orientated total of 39 points.