Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Earlier this week, when it was starting to look like Cam Newton would miss this game with injury, I was considering putting a bet on the Panthers. The Panthers have gotten off to a disappointing 0-2 start and Newton not being 100% is the biggest reason why. The Panthers defense has played well, allowing just a 32.82% first down rate against a pair of offenses in the Rams and Buccaneers that have plenty of weapons. The offense is what’s been holding back this team and it’s not as if Newton isn’t getting help from his playmakers.
Lead back Christian McCaffrey is averaging 4.71 yards per carry on the ground and Newton’s receivers have been getting open, but Newton leads the league with a 34.2% uncatchable pass rate and has negative rushing yardage on the season. Considering the Panthers have lost their first 2 games by a combined 9 points, the Panthers could easily be 2-0 right now if they had competent quarterback play. Backup Kyle Allen is one of the least proven backups in the league, but it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade over what Newton has been through 2 games.
Unfortunately, we aren’t getting the line I thought we would with the Panthers, as they are just 2-point underdogs in Arizona. They’ll also be without key defensive lineman Kawaan Short. The Panthers are still strong upfront with Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy, but losing Short will still hurt both their run defense and their interior pass rush. With an unproven backup under center and no Kawaan Short, it’s hard to confidently bet on the Panthers on the road in a game they basically have to win in order to cover, even against a mediocre Cardinals team. There’s some value with the money line at +110, as I think there’s a better than 50% chance the Panthers win, but I’d need a full field goal to bet the spread.
Carolina Panthers 19 Arizona Cardinals 17 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Carolina +2