Defense the Edge as NFL Odds Favor Panthers Over Steelers

Steven Suarez

Thursday, September 18, 2014 2:00 PM GMT

It's been a fast start for the Panthers, who have grabbed two wins to open up their season. They'll be back at home, where they'll entertain Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a key Week 3 matchup. Where is the NFL betting value?

***UPDATE

Sunday Night Football features the undefeated Panthers, who just crushed the Lions at home, entertaining the Steelers, who are 1-1 after a bad loss in Baltimore last Thursday.

Throughout the week, the NFL odds haven't shifted much, as Carolina still remains a three-point favorite at most sites. The O/U is at 42 points.

On the injury front, the Panthers could be without DeAngelo Williams, who is expected to be a game-time decision. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are both probable, but Jerrico Cotchery and Jason Avant are questionable.

Aside from Dri Archer, currently doubtful to play, the Steelers have a pretty clean bill of health. Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller and Lance Moore are all questionable.

With Week 3's NFL picks, we have settled on Carolina as our top ATS play.

The Steelers may have had a few extra days to prepare for this game, but the Panthers are on a roll to start the season and should be able to translate that into another home win this weekend. That defense has been outstanding early on and should make life difficult on Ben Roethlisberger.

With that being said, we're going to add the Panthers as favorite to our NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Panthers -3

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For now, Carolina is favored by either three or three-and-a-half points, depending on which sportsbook you use.

The total has opened at 41.5 and has crept up to 42 at 5Dimes.

Carolina Panthers in 2014-15 Regular Season: 2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS, +11.5 margin of victory

Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014-15 Regular Season: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS, -8.5 margin of victory

The Panthers came into Week 2 favored at home over the Lions and they played the part wonderfully, winning 24-7.

Cam Newton made his season debut and looked to be in mid-season form, despite taking four sacks. He finished with 281 passing yards and one touchdown pass, which was caught by Jason Avant. Greg Olsen led all receivers with 72 yards and six catches, while Jonathan Stewart recorded 59 total yards and a score without DeAngelo Williams out there.

The Panthers defense was stellar once again, completely shutting down a typically high-powered Detroit offense. Holding the likes of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to only seven points is an impressive feat, no matter how you spin it.

Will Carolina be able to lock things down again in Week 3 against Pittsburgh?

The Steelers had a rough go of it last Thursday in Baltimore, losing 26-6 as small underdogs on the NFL odds.

Roethlisberger struggled, completing 22-of-37 passes for 217 yards with one interception and zero touchdown passes. Antonio Brown still managed to be effective, hauling in seven passes for 90 yards, with Le'Veon Bell adding on 11 carries for 59 yards and five catches for 48 yards.

You have to think Pittsburgh will be ready to fare better this weekend, especially after getting a few extra days to rest up and prepare for this test in Carolina.

That being said, the Panthers are in great form right now and that defense is looking pretty special. We'll have a better feel for where to go with our NFL picks later on, but right now we're leaning on the home team.