Carolina Panthers (2-5) at Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
The Rams come out of the bye healthy on defense, after key players like cornerback Trumaine Johnson, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, and defensive ends William Hayes and Robert Quinn all missed some time in the weeks before the bye. Right now, the Rams are more or less at full strength as a team, something few teams can say at this point in the season. Unfortunately, even when the defense is healthy, this is far from a quality team because of their lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. They rank 30th in first down percentage differential, thanks primarily to an offense that ranks 28th in first down percentage. Their defense is better now that it’s healthy, but this is still one of the weakest teams in the NFL.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are a lot better than their 2-5 record. Three of their five losses have come by a field goal or less and they’ve had one of the tougher schedules in the league thus far this season. They enter this game 12th in first down percentage differential. They’ve also had both quarterback Cam Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart miss time this season and both are back healthy now, an obvious boost. They’re not the same team they were last season, but they’re still a strong opponent. The problem is we’re not getting any line value with them as this line has shifted from 1.5 to 3.5 in favor of the Panthers in the past week, thanks to Carolina’s home victory over the Cardinals last week. Carolina is the pick, but this is a no confidence pick.
Carolina Panthers 20 Los Angeles Rams 16
Pick against the spread: Carolina -3.5