Having won each of their first six games of the season, the Panthers have been one of the most pleasant surprises. Will they follow through as the NFL odds-on favorites on Monday Night Football?
The Panthers are on a serious roll so far this season, and this week they face another very winnable game, this time at home against the disappointing Colts. Monday Night Football promises to deliver in Week 8, with two top-tier quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Cam Newton going at it in Carolina.
If we look over the NFL odds, we find the undefeated Panthers favored by a touchdown, though some sites have a line of seven and a half available. The total is trading at 46.5.
It's been amazing to watch the Panthers go to work each week. They're doing what they need to do to earn wins each weekend, and they've still yet to end up on the losing side, a pretty remarkable feat considering we're almost halfway through the season.
You can tell Carolina has found a nice balance offensively and defensively, and the statistics back that statement up. Right now the Panthers are ranked sixth in both scoring offense (27.0 points per game) and scoring defense (18.3 points per game allowed), and that's obviously served them very well so far. Luke Kuechly is back and in the heart of the Carolina defense, and he's been instrumental when healthy and on the field, while Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and the rest of the Panthers offense have stepped up and made big plays when it's counted.
With home wins over Houston (24-17), New Orleans (27-22) and Philadelphia (27-16) already on the resume, Caroilna should be confident heading into Week 8, although they'll be wary of the challenge that Luck poses.
The Colts opened with two losses, recovered to win three in a row, but then suffered two consecutive defeats in Weeks 6 and 7. They lost by seven at home to New England (although the game wasn't as close as the score would suggest), and then lost 27-21 to New Orleans this past Sunday, against at home.
In a game in which Indy was a firm favorite, they fell short once again in front of their own fans. The Colts now stand at 3-4 on the season, which is a disappointing mark when considering what the preseason expectations were for this team. Crazily enough, that losing mark is STILL good for first place in the terrible AFC South.
We're expecting better play out of Indianapolis going forward, and there's a good chance it'll start on the national stage this coming Monday. There will be lot of public hype about the undefeated Panthers, but we're not going to sleep on the Colts in this spot.
NFL ATS Pick
It's been a little weird to see the Colts struggle this much, considering they have one of the most talented teams (or at least, one of the most talented offenses) in the NFL.
The results just haven't been there for Indianapolis though, and Luck has to take fault for a big part of those struggles. He's been making a lot of careless errors and it's been putting the Colts in bad spots. A QB rating just north of 75 is just not going to cut it in the NFL, especially for someone as talented as Luck.
That makes us think Indy could be undervalued right now, as they're being priced as if they're not going to figure it out. It's hard to have much faith in this team right now, but the Colts are far too talented to be struggling like this, and there's still plenty of time for them to turn things around and make a legitimate playoff push. We've seen Luck and company do it before.
So, with our NFL picks, we'll be taking the underdogs and backing the Colts to avoid a beating on primetime.
NFL Pick: Indianapolis Colts +7.5 at 5Dimes