The Panthers, as we noted earlier this week in an interview with wideout Steve Smith, are favored against the Patriots on Monday night.
Indeed, this continues to be the case. As of this afternoon, the Panthers are favored by as many as three points as multiple Nevada sports books, according to the “The Linemakers” of Sporting News.
That the Panthers are favored is noteworthy for a couple reasons. For starters, it’s a clear sign of respect for 6-3 Carolina, which has won five straight games. (The Panthers have beaten the point spread in all of those wins, too.)
There’s also the matter of the Patriots not often finding themselves as underdogs. They have been favored in all but one game this season.
Oh, there’s one more thing about the Patriots as underdogs: they usually do quite well when not playing the role of favorite.
Since 2010, the Patriots have been underdogs just five times, according to data from Marc Lawrence’s 2013 Stat and Log Book.
In four of those games, they have won outright, and in every instance, they have beaten the point spread.
In 2010, the Patriots (+2.5) won at San Diego in Week Seven. Three weeks later, the Pats (+4.5) knocked off Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.
In 2011, the Pats (+3) defeated the Jets by 21 points at MetLife Stadium.
In 2012, the Ravens (-2.5) defeated the visiting Patriots by just one point.
Finally, earlier this season, the Patriots (+3) defeated the Falcons in Atlanta.
For those who want to go back even further, you’ll find that the Patriots, though winless as underdogs in five tries in 2008 through 2009, did beat the spread three times in those games.
There’s a lot to like about how the Panthers have played of late. And look, some historical trends don’t mean a lot when it comes to picking winners. But we can say this with confidence: the Patriots aren’t anybody’s patsies as underdogs.