Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Detroit Lions (3-1)
The Panthers entered the season on my underrated list, but they’ve had bad injury luck thus far. They’ve lost tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil, two of their most important offensive players, for an extended period of time, while Cam Newton has not looked sharp in his return from shoulder surgery. This week, safety Kurt Coleman is added to the list of injured starters, while left tackle Matt Kalil could also be out after barely practicing this week with a groin injury. The Panthers might actually be a little overrated right now, following their upset win in New England. It’s not that beating the Patriots in New England isn’t impressive, but the Patriots have not been as good this season and they were in a tough spot with another game in 4 days. Prior to that game, the Panthers lost 34-13 at home to the Saints.
The Lions, meanwhile, were on my overrated list coming into the season. They went 9-7 last season, but they had just 1 win by more than a touchdown and no wins over playoff teams and they lost left tackle Taylor Decker and defensive end Kerry Hyder with injuries before the season even started. They’re 3-1, but they’ve lost the first down battle in all 4 games, despite not playing that tough of a schedule, with games against the Cardinals, who was leading until David Johnson got hurt, the Giants, who held them to 12 first downs, the Falcons, who beat them despite being -3 in takeaways, and the Vikings, who were starting Case Keenum at quarterback.
However, I think we’re actually getting a little bit of line value here because Carolina is a little overrated after last week’s win. I have these two teams about equal, so this line should be at -3, but it’s at -2 instead. That’s not a ton of line value so I can’t be that confident in the Lions, but they should be able to beat a banged up Carolina team at home by a field goal or more, so they should be the right pick in pick ‘em leagues. I wouldn’t recommend betting on the Lions this week though.
Detroit Lions 23 Carolina Panthers 20
Pick against the spread: Detroit -2