Carolina Panthers (5-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)
A week ago on the early line, the Panthers were 3-point home underdogs, but now they are 3-point favorites. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that and this is not an exception. This line moved because the Panthers pulled the upset in Seattle last week and are playing significantly better with new quarterback Sam Darnold, while the Steelers lost their quarterback Kenny Pickett to injury, but neither replacement option, Mason Rudolph or Mitch Trubisky, are significant downgrades from Pickett, while the Panthers’ play in recent weeks with Darnold is not enough to justify this much of a line movement.
The Steelers have the same record as the Panthers and a worse point differential (-66 vs. -30), but they have a significant edge in schedule adjusted efficiency (16th vs. 25th), as the Steelers have faced a significantly tougher schedule, probably the toughest in the NFL. The Steelers also were without top defensive player TJ Watt for most of the season so far and he has since returned, so they’re better than their record suggests. The Panthers probably have the better quarterback in this game and there’s not quite enough here for the Steelers to be worth betting, but the Steelers should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes at +3.
Carolina Panthers 17 Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +3