Add Panthers & Newton to Week 2 NFL Picks vs. Lions

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 6:51 PM GMT

It only took one week for the pessimism surrounding the Detroit Lions to melt away. And the Carolina Panthers survived Week 1 with Derek Anderson as their quarterback. Something’s got to give when they meet Sunday. So let's take a look at what the NFL odds offer!

Jason’s Record After Week 1: 1-4 ATS, 0-1 Totals

Profit: minus-6.6 units

Is this the year the Detroit Lions finally put everything together? Not much was expected from them in their first year under new head coach Jim Caldwell, but the Lions apparently didn’t get the memo. They crushed the New York Giants (+6.5 away) 35-14 in their season opener on Monday Night Football. Matthew Stafford threw two TD passes to Calvin Johnson in the first quarter, and the Leos defense held New York to 197 total yards. Plan the parade route!

Detroit wasn’t even close to the biggest surprise in a very surprising Week 1 on the NFL betting calendar. That honor goes to the Carolina Panthers, who beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 5.5-point road dogs with, yes, Derek Anderson (70.0 career passer rating) and his size 17 shoes at starting quarterback. Good for him. We’ve had a lot of fun at his expense. But should we place our NFL pick on him in Week 2?

 

Matthew 3:16
We don’t have to. Panthers head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera has already declared Cam Newton a go for Sunday’s matchup (1:00 pm. ET, FOX). But that hasn’t stopped bettors from piling on Detroit as a 2.5-point road dog on the NFL odds. As we go to press, our consensus reports show 58 percent support for the Lions.

It could be the added incentive of that +105 juice. But it’s more likely the way Detroit put the boots to the Giants on national television. This was a blowout of epic proportions. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell was quick to point out how mobile Stafford was, drawing a direct line to Joe Flacco when Caldwell was the Baltimore Ravens QB coach and offensive co-ordinator. That’s your 2012 Super Bowl champion Ravens, by the way.

Stafford (83.7 career passer rating) has never quite made it over the hump since he was drafted first overall out of Georgia in 2009. But he’s shown several flashes of brilliance, especially in 2011 when he threw 41 TD passes and the Lions finished 10-6 (7-7-2 ATS). Perhaps the Caldwell-Stafford Connection is just what Detroit needed to get the most out of Megatron and the rest of the offense.

 

It’s All About Benjamin
Now it’s up to the Detroit defense to stop imploding for a change. The talent has been there for a while, except when it hasn’t: three-time Pro Bowl RT Ndamukong Suh has somehow managed to miss just two games to suspension despite a number of on-field incidents, while Lombardi Award-winning LT Nick Fairley only started seven games in his first two seasons combined. Having both those players up front in 2013 allowed Detroit’s defense to improve from No. 24 to No. 14 on the efficiency charts at Football Outsiders.

Even better, Detroit is No. 2 in defensive efficiency this year after the first game. But the Panthers are No. 1 after holding the dubious Buccaneers offense (and their ugly new duds) to 264 total yards. Even though we’ve got Carolina as one of our five most overvalued teams for 2014, it wasn’t because of the defense. It was because of the Panthers offensive line and the lack of receivers. Yet Anderson only ate one sack last week, and first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin looks like the real deal after hauling in six catches for 92 yards and a TD. Newton should have a field day this year throwing to the 6-foot-5 wideout from the Florida State Seminoles. That’s your 2013 National Champion Seminoles, by the way.

 

The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: DET

Defense/Special Teams: CAR

Coaching: CAR

Market Bias: CAR

Betting Line Value: DET

Verdict: 1-star pick on CAR

Free NFL Pick: Put 1.4 units on the Panthers –3 (+105) at Bookmaker

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