NFL Picks for Friday's Panthers vs. Bills

David Lawrence

Friday, August 14, 2015 1:11 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 14, 2015 1:11 PM UTC

Buffalo enters this game and season as the team with a lot more to prove, despite being better than Carolina in 2014. Will this be enough for us to add them to our NFL picks?

What We Know About The Coaches
Ron Rivera of the Panthers is 8-8 in the preseason. He went 3-1 and 2-2 in his last two seasons. Rivera is obviously seeking improvement after a 7-8-1 season, but he doesn’t want to ride his team too hard after it reached the second round of the playoffs.

Buffalo coach Rex Ryan is 11-13 in the preseason. He went 3-1 and 2-2 in his last two preseasons. Ryan wants to build something new in Buffalo, and his players are probably going to feel a certain level of enthusiasm as they try to follow his lead in his first season as the Bills’ coach. That last factor probably gives Ryan a slight edge, despite what is technically a worse preseason record than Rivera’s.

Edge: Bills


Quarterback Rotation
The Panthers do not need to play Cam Newton much. They need to save him from hits so that he can be fresh for the regular season. Derek Anderson, a competent veteran backup, will get a lot of playing time, as should third-stringer and former NFL starter Joe Webb, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings. Anderson playing a lot of this game should benefit the Panthers. Having a veteran in the backup slot should generally translate into a good preseason performance by the offense.

The Bills might be one of the few teams in the NFL whose starting quarterback, not the number two man, needs a lot of work. Matt Cassel needs to prove he can be a good number one quarterback, so he should get a lot of playing time. Tyrod Taylor should get at least a quarter at number two, having come over from the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have very good quarterback situations – not for the regular season, but for the preseason.

Edge: Even

Click here to view Jason's NFL pick for Panthers/Bills

Team Depth & Rotations
The Panthers don’t need to worry about their starting running back with Jonathan Stewart, so backup Fozzy Whittaker should get a lot of touches. Mike Tolbert is set at fullback, so backup Richie Brockel should get a lot of time in the backfield as well. Ted Ginn, a backup wide receiver, should get a long look, while frontline receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Corey Brown should get light and minimal work. On defense, don’t expect Luke Kuechly or Star Lotulelei to see much action. The front seven needs to see which backups can produce.

The Bills are set at running back with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson, so third-stringer Anthony Dixon should get a lot of work. Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley, and Deonte Thompson should be the backup receivers who will play a lot in this game. The Bills should similarly rest defensive standouts such as Mario and Kyle Williams (not related). They also are stronger on defense than on offense and will go to the third string for a lot of snaps.

Edge: Even


Outlook & Pick
These teams both have lots of reasons to play well on offense, and struggle on defense, as third-string guys play a lot of minutes so that the proven first-level guys can rest. The Bills have much better depth at quarterback and running back as their third-stringers have seen regular season action before. That being the case, we’ll roll with them with your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Bills -3 at Bovada

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