The Panthers finished 11-5 in 2017 with a schedule ranking 16th based on team records from the prior season. The 2018 campaign is a bit more difficult (12th).
Carolina has six matchups this season against 2017 playoff teams, and three other games vs. clubs that went 9-7 and just missed going to the postseason.
Below you will find the Panthers’ straight-up and against-the-spread records from last year’s NFL regular season, including average margin of victory, 2017 average odds, 2017 win totals and 2018 pre-scheduled figures, and projected strength of schedule using opponents’ combined record from 2017.
2017 SU Record: 11-5 (2.3 avg. margin)
2017 ATS Record: 9-7 (0.7 avg. margin)
2017 Average Line: -1.5
2017 Win Total: 9 (-120)
2018 Win Total 5Dimes (pre-schedule): 9 (+100)
2018 Strength of Schedule: 12th, opponents were 131-125 (.512)
Three Games to Back ATS
Ravens, Week 8; Saints, Week 15
The Panthers are one of a few NFL teams that play a trio of two-game road swings before returning home. Head coach Ron Rivera's team has handled this scenario just fine in the past, going 10-4 SU and ATS since he took over in 2011. It is covering a -1.5 average line by a healthy 6.1 points per game. Star quarterback Cam Newton has operated under center for all but one. This situation gets the green light hosting the Ravens and Saints, but tread cautiously betting against the Seahawks in Week 12. Quarterback Russell Wilson is pretty good at upstaging the betting market against strong defenses.
@Steelers, Week 10
This is a get-up spot for Newton. The 2015 MVP is 5-1 ATS as a road underdog against AFC opponents in his career. This will likely be the case when the Panthers travel to Pittsburgh. They are easily topping a 5.2 average line by a full touchdown. Newton has led the offense to 28 points or more in all but one contest, winning three outright. This includes a stunning 33-30 victory over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in 2017.
Three Games to Fade ATS
Cowboys, Week 1; Bengals, Week 3
Rivera’s success offensively depends on establishing the run, Newton’s read-option, and subsequent play-action attack it sets up. This combination tends to burn bettors when favorites against weaker teams with an efficient pass defense. Carolina is 2-6 SU and 0-8 ATS when chalk against a team with a point differential from the prior season under 1.25, yet they allowed fewer than 6.5 opponent yards per pass. The Panthers are coming up a whopping 10.9 points shy of a -4.0 average line. This situation arises in Week 1 with the Cowboys catching 2.5 points in their opener at Carolina. It should also show up against the Bengals in Week 3.
Falcons, Week 16
Newton has failed to cover at least two spreads in each of his first seven seasons under center against NFC South rivals. One of these has come against the Falcons in every year but 2012. With a spread at a touchdown or less, Newton is 4-8 SU and ATS overall. Bettors will see a number within this range when the Falcons visit Bank of America Stadium in Week 16.
Trap Game Potential
@Redskins, Week 6
The Redskins fit the Cowboys-Bengals angle mentioned above, but the Panthers will have to lay points. This is a real possibility depending on how the first few weeks shake out for each team. Nonetheless, expect an improved defense and superior game management under new quarterback Alex Smith to give the Cats all they can handle. Don’t get trapped.