The San Francisco 49ers are getting more football betting interest than any of the other seven teams playing in the Divisional Round. Should the Carolina Panthers be offended?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 7 inclusive:

44-39-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

11-18-1 Totals

It’s entirely possible that the San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl this year. But are they the best team left in the playoffs? There’s a lot of chatter to that effect in the lamestream media, pushing the 49ers as the team to beat after they narrowly escaped the Green Bay Packers (+3.5) 23-20 in the Wild Card round. Must be all that man-love for Aaron Rodgers. Even the officials seemed to favor Rodgers near the end of that game.

The football betting public agrees. As we go to press, the Niners (13-4 SU, 11-6 ATS) have pulled in more bettors than anyone else playing in the Divisional Round, according to our expanded consensus reports. San Fran is checking in at 64 percent support as a 1.5-point road chalk on the NFL odds board against the Carolina Panthers (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) for Sunday’s matchup.

Cajun Up with Jake

Can’t say I’m surprised. Although the 49ers tend to get overlooked playing on the West Coast, there’s no question the Niners brand is much more recognizable than the small-market Panthers, who’ve only been around for 20 years. We just saw San Francisco at Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVII; Carolina made it to Super Bowl XXXVIII at the end of the 2003 season, but this is the team’s first trip to the playoffs since 2008. Nobody waxes poetic about the Jake Delhomme years.

But I digress. Let’s take a closer look at these early betting patterns – wow. It’s all San Francisco, all the way down. Now I feel a bit nauseous. I picked the Panthers in my report on the opening odds, and I said it was the easiest pick of all four Divisional games by a landslide. They’ve got everything a sharp could want: small-market team with better efficiency numbers, a 15 percent chance of rain that should help the underdogs… what am I missing here?

Image previewWeekend Update

The DVOA stats at Football Outsiders have been updated to incorporate the Wild Card results, and No. 4 Carolina (No. 11 offense, No. 5 defense, No. 12 special teams) still checks in ahead of No. 6 San Francisco (No. 10 offense, No. 11 defense, No. 5 special teams). And the NFL still officially recognizes Carolina’s 10-9 victory over the Niners (–6 at home) in Week 10. That game happened, right? Is this real life?

With that win, the Panthers improved to 11-7 SU and 15-3 ATS lifetime against the 49ers. That’s not a whole lot of games, mind you. Week 10 was the only time these two teams have met since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach for San Francisco, and Ron Rivera for Carolina, both in 2011. Again, Harbaugh is by far the more respected coach of the two, but Rivera has made huge strides this year, finally embracing modern methods and going for it more often on fourth down.

Moons Over My Hammy

There haven’t been any San Francisco injuries popping up on the newswires in the aftermath of last week’s frozen football-fest, so that’s a positive sign for Niners supporters. It’ll help even more if CB Carlos Rodgers returns to action after missing Wild Card weekend with a strained hamstring. But surely that Packers game took some of the sting out of San Fran.

I’m flummoxed, quite frankly. I’ll be back later this week to discuss the NFL totals; by then, we should have some computer projections, and more analysts will have weighed in with their take on this matchup. Until then… I’m still with the Panthers. Good Lord, they just moved to +2. Yay?

NFL Pick: Take the Panthers +2 (–105) at Bodog