By now, NFL teams have slowly begun to show whether or not they're worthy of being taken seriously by the general public.
Straight up records tell much of the story for all 32 teams, and as we approach the quarter-mark of the 2012 NFL season, desperation is already starting to set in for some.
To the betting public, performance against the spread is a popular and powerful tool that allows shrewd bettors to gain a better understanding of which teams may be sitting ducks. Oddly enough, it may be those who have out-performed the spread who are destined to make an uncharacteristic crash landing.
[SpreadSHREDDER Week 3 ATS:
[Overall Record ATS: 6-3]
CAROLINA (+7) OVER ATLANTA
Atlanta has looked like the best team in the NFL through three weeks, and they appear to be the real deal; however at -7, Vegas may be overreacting to a string of overachieving performances by the Falcons. These impressive wins come in conjunction with a nationally-televised loss by the Panthers, where Cam Newton just looked awful.
The Falcons are coming off of a 24-point blowout victory over the Chargers. Meanwhile, the last time we saw the Panthers, they were on the wrong side of a 29-point beat down at the hands of the New York Giants.
The combined 53-point swing, coupled with Atlanta playing a whopping 17 points better than the Carolina against the spread, gives the Panthers incredible value as a touchdown underdog.
Expect Carolina, with extra time to adjust following their rout loss, to come out focused, desperate and dangerous fresh off of a week where Cam Newton's leadership was artistically questioned by the Charlotte Observer.
Prediction: Carolina, 26-24
MINNESOTA (+4.5) OVER DETROIT
The Detroit Lions were one of the most overvalued teams in the league coming into the 2012 season—with Detroit leading the league in the fluky categories of special team and defensive touchdowns—and they have been as advertised thus far.
Coming off yet another abysmal defensive performance where they allowed 44 points to the previously deceased Tennessee Titans, the Lions make for a lousy home favorite against a balanced Minnesota offense capable of exploiting hula hoop-sized holes in the Detroit secondary.
Minnesota will be seeking revenge for a pair of bitter losses to the Lions from last season, making them a strong candidate for a second-straight upset victory.
Prediction: Minnesota, 27-21
NEW YORK JETS (+4.5) OVER SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco, a team loaded with warning signs coming into this season, will be playing its third road game in four weeks, and will be playing three time zones away from San Francisco while struggling with a negative body clock based on the normal 1:00 pm start time they're used to.
A low-scoring slugfest would certainly not be conducive to such a sizable spread for San Francisco, whose uncharacteristic three turnovers from last week may be a sign of things to come for a team that led the league in turnover change last season with an outlying +29.
Look for the Jets to be motivated as home underdogs determined to prove a point to their growing legion of critics in the always-loquatious New York media market.
Prediction: New York Jets, 16-10
Lines from Sportsbook.com via VegasInsider.com