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HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 23: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers looks for yards agains the Houston Texans during a first half run at NRG Stadium on September 23, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Bob Levey / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The Carolina Panthers have been a perfect NFL pick this year. Can they keep it going against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys?

Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, October 03, 2021 - 01:00 PM EDT at AT&T Stadium

Everybody knew Sam Darnold was going to be a Pro Bowl quarterback. How could he miss? He was a blue-chip prospect from the USC Trojans and the No. 3 overall pick by the New York Jets in the 2018 Draft. That’s two picks higher than Mark Sanchez, another former Trojan who… oh, right. The Jets. That’s how he could miss.

Now that Darnold is with the Carolina Panthers, he’s suddenly playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league – at least according to the advanced stats. The Panthers are 3-0 SU and ATS to start the 2021 campaign, and there’s no reason for us to get off this gravy train now that Sportsbook Review has them as 4.5-point road dogs on Saturday’s NFL odds board, with the Dallas Cowboys supplying the opposition.

Feels Like Carolina

That’s what the projections would have us believe. FiveThirtyEight says Dallas –3, and ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Cowboys winning 55.3 percent of the time, for a fair money line of –124 using the shimmering SBR Odds Converter; the Panthers are available at +180 at Sportsbook Review as we go to press. Hmmmmm… which line should we put in our Week 4 NFL picks?

Either either. According to the Wizard of Odds, a +4.5 point spread in the NFL is equivalent to a fair money line (no vig) of +191, so you might be doing okay at +180 considering the 30-cent line in play for this contest.

You might prefer to take Carolina at +4 or even +3.5 depending on which online sportsbooks you shop at and what their vigorish is, but generally speaking, the Panthers are the sharp pick here – and 64 percent of early bettors agree, as per the consensus reports for the spread.

Sam He Am

Back to our hero for a moment. The advanced stats we mentioned are at ESPN, who have Darnold ranked sixth overall with a 66.8 QBR, ahead of Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady at 64.5. Too advanced for you? Darnold finished the weekend in ninth place overall with 888 yards passing, two spots ahead of Buffalo’s Josh Allen (807 yards). He has just one interception after three games, and those three wins are one more than he managed in twelve starts with the Jets last year.

Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers. Tim Warner/Getty Images/AFP.

We’re not going to compare Darnold to Dak Prescott at this point – only because the Cowboys played on Monday Night Football, so the stats haven’t been updated yet. Prescott is a true-blue two-time Pro Bowler, and while there have been some issues with the offensive line in front of him, the Cowboys (2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS) have yet to drop the cash this season.

They’re coming off what turned into a 41-21 blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5 away); it’s an important divisional win for Dallas, but they’ll have a short week of rest before hosting Carolina, and starting SS Donovan Wilson remains uncertain with a tender groin. We’ll fade that for a dollar.

NFL Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review Review)

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.