Capper Picks Steelers Cover vs. Panthers Sunday Night Football

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:59 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014 2:59 PM GMT

The undefeated Carolina Panthers host the Pittsburgh Steelers fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the Ravens but which side is the right side to cash in our NFL picks on Sunday?

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
The final score between the Steelers and the Ravens was 20-6 in favor of Baltimore but oftentimes the scoreboard doesn’t reflect the game itself. The Ravens only outgained the Steelers by 21 net yards but Pittsburgh’s penchant for mistakes led to their ultimate demise. Justin Brown replaced Antonio Brown after the latter sustained a punishing hit on an 18-yard reception and the former then proceeded to fumble in the red zone effectively killing a promising drive.

Pittsburgh’s penalties and miscues abounded which allowed the Ravens to exploit those opportunities and turn them into points. The Steelers defense was forced onto the field early and often which eventually saw the balance of power shift as Baltimore rung up 16 points in the second half versus only three for the visiting Steelers. One would hope that all the culprits were taken to task this week and a sharper performance on both sides of the ball will be in store for anyone backing Pittsburgh in their NFL picks

 

Carolina Panthers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
Cam Newton and the Panthers followed up their 20-14 Week 1 victory over the Bucs as 4 ½ point road dogs with a decisive 24-7 win last week over the Lions where the oddsmakers installed them as 1 ½ point favorites in NFL odds. They now reside at the top of the NFC South and ready to take on the Steelers who travel to Charlotte as three-point underdogs in NFL odds.

Despite getting sacked four times, Newton was able to finish strong and registered 281 yards on 22-of-34 passing including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Jason Avant. The Panthers were without the services of starting tailback DeAngleo Williams last week due to a thigh injury but he will be back in uniform which is good news for a listless Panthers rushing attack that accounted for only 62 yards last week, the team’s lowest since Week 10 of the 2012 season.

Defensive end Greg Hardy will once again be in civvies this week as he battles domestic abuse charges but even without the services of the All-Pro the Panthers were able to sack Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford four times. Cornerback Melvin White recorded the team’s only interception when he picked off an errant Stafford pass targeting a tightly covered Calvin Johnson. The Panthers secondary should expect to get tested plenty with Big Ben Roethlisberger looking for streaking targets in the forms of Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton while old reliable Heath Miller will be the tried and true safety valve if Carolina’s deep coverage is stout.

 

Free NFL Pick
As of this writing Carolina is attracting 70 percent of the money being wagered and it’s not a big surprise considering the outcomes of their respective games in Week 2. Over the past three seasons Pittsburgh is only 1-8 against the spread in September games while Carolina is 5-4 ATS during the same month. Carolina looked impressive in victory over a dangerous Lions team, limiting one of the most prolific pass-catch combinations in history to 83 yards and no touchdowns. Though the Stafford to Megatron connection did not dent the scoreboard, Stafford did hit paydirt with a little outlet toss to Jed Collins accounting for their only score.

So why, oh why, do I like the Pittsburgh Steelers in this matchup? Am I being overtly contrarian just to appear sharp by dismissing the betting public? Well, that might be a chic byproduct of this selection but it is not the reason why. Here’s the deal. The Steelers will have 10 days to prepare for this one as they got their asses beat on Thursday of last week and had the entire weekend to think about the plethora of mistakes they made in their loss to the Ravens as 2 ½ point road dogs. The Panthers were actually the beneficiary of similarly sloppy play by their opponents last week, the Detroit Lions. 

This game will see a motivated Steelers team who will be able to scorch a Panthers secondary as long as the offensive line can remain relatively mistake free and keep Big Ben upright. Wide receiver Lance Moore will make his debut for the Steelers after sitting out the first two games with a nagging groin injury. The bottom line is that the Steelers will be passing while the Panthers will be rushing against a porous Pittsburgh front line. I believe Pittsburgh will not only cover the NFL odds but win this game outright, so add that your free picks.

NFL Picks: Steelers +3 ½ at Pinnacle.com

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