The Panthers were two different teams a season ago. The first 11 weeks of their season were awful, but they ended the year winning five of their last six games to go 7-9 SU on the season. This year, the NFL odds from LVH Sportsbook in Las Vegas have the Panthers at 7 wins, with the ‘Over’ and ‘Under’ priced the same at -110. Let's review the team's chances and see if we can find a winning NFL pick.
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The Panthers have the number one ranked strength of schedule this season based on their opponents’ 2012 winning percentage, but a closer look will uncover a schedule that is not that bad. With the exception of their divisional road games, and a trip to San Francisco, they could very well be above .500 on the road this season.
Their home matchups are obviously tougher, but they could still make a splash this season. They open the season at home against a very tough Seahawks team, and that could be the first of many statements the Panthers make this season. However against Seattle, NYG, St. Louis, Atlanta, New England, Tampa, NYJ and the Saints at home this year, the Panthers have a tough road ahead of them. However if they end up above .500 on the road, they will score over their season win total for this season. I could very well see the Panthers as an 8-8 or even 9-7 SU football team if they can put it all together under Newton’s third season under center.
How do the Panther's odds rank against the rest of the NFC South this season?
Despite being at home in Week 1, the Panthers find themselves as underdogs in the NFL odds. The Seahawks are -3.5 road favorites in Week 1, with a total of 45.5 points. Carolina was 2-3 ATS as home underdogs a season ago, while Seattle was also 2-3 ATS as road favorites. Seattle didn’t have that many areas of being below .500 ATS last season, but as I have discussed in previous articles, I see the Hawks as very overvalued this season.
With that being said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Hawks drop this game to the Panthers. Carolina’s offense is a bad matchup for the bigger and slower Hawks’ defense. If Newton can keep them honest defending both the pass and the run, I see Carolina coming away with a cover and maybe a win in Week 1.
The Sharp Pick
Despite their rough schedule, I think Carolina is very undervalued here in the NFL odds this offseason. 8-8 will be no small task, but the Panthers have the talent to do it. The latter part of their schedule is definitely the toughest. They play Atlanta and New Orleans four times in the final eight weeks of the season. Along with those four very tough games, they play the Patriots at home, along with the 49ers and Dolphins on the road in the second half. Carolina will need to get their winning done early if they want to become a .500 team this season.
My Pick: ‘Over’ 7 -110
Week 1 Lean: Panthers +3.5 -115 at Bet365