The Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck head to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday night to face Cam Newton and the unbeaten Carolina Panthers in a huge Week 8 game.
Odds Overview: Indianapolis Colts vs. Carolina Panthers
QB Cam Newton (18-16-1 ATS at Home) and the Carolina Panthers (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) swing open the doors of Bank of America Stadium to QB Andrew Luck (14-13 ATS on Road) and the Indianapolis Colts (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) next Monday night (Week 8) in what should be a very entertaining primetime Week 8 affair from the Tar Heel State. NFL Oddsmakers here have installed the Panthers as 6½-point Favorites although many Offshore sportsbooks and a handful of ones here in Las Vegas have moved to -7 and in Europe, Sky Bet is still showing a (Panthers minus) 6 with -110 vigorish on both sides. The Advanced Line (SuperBook) out last week had Carolina as 3½-point favorites here while the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Panthers as 2½-point favorites in this game in their NFL Games of the Year released late Spring. The Total here is at 45½ (The Greek) while the Money Line sees host Carolina as -290 favorites with the underdog Colts priced at +240 on the takeback (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). The Panthers Team Total Points here is 27 (Stan James) while the Colts Team Total Points is at 19½ (Stan James).
The Indianapolis Colts (147 PF-174 PA) are a hot mess, worse than they have been in many years, yet still sit in 1st Place in the paltry AFC South with a 3-4 record entering this Week 8 affair in Carolina. Last week, it was a horrible Loss to Saints in Naptown (27-21) in which the Colts trailed 27-0 before rallying to fall short and leave the Home Lucas Oil Stadium crowd disappointed. It seems this team knows Head Coach Chuck Pagano will eventually be gone, so like some other teams in the NFL now, the Horseshoes are sort of playing for The Ghost of a Coach...and not doing so well at it. It seems the Truth about young QB Andrew Luck has been exposed—that the curly-maned Stanford product is great against his milktoast AFC South division but figuratively and literally average against the rest of the NFL (20-20 SU). This is a huge game for Indianapolis (30/1 to win Super Bowl, 10Red), so Luck will need RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson, WR TY Hilton and dependable TE Coby Fleener to provide the bacon here and veteran K Adam Vinatieri may be called upon when drives stall against this underrated Panthers Defense. On the Injury front for the Colts, S Clayton Geathers (Knee), S Mike Adams (Hamstring) and RB Josh Robinson (Undisclosed) are all listed as Questionable for this game while RB Tyler Varga (Concussion), CB D’Joun Smith (Concussion), DT Arthur Jones (Ankle) and CB Tevin Mitchel (Shoulder) are all on the Injured-Reserve List while Rookie (Miami Florida) WR Phillip Dorsett (Ankle) is slated for a mid-December return for Indianapolis.
The Carolina Panthers (162 PF-110 PA) can feel the Atlanta Falcons (6-1) nipping at their heels in the suddenly relevant NFC South—all four teams finished with records under .500 last season—so just winning, and staying unbeaten in the process, seems to be the focus of QB Cam Newton and this team which knocked off the Seahawks in Seattle, 27-24 in Week 6 and then humbled the Philadelphia Eagles and Sam Bradford on Monday Night Football in Week 7 as the Carolina Defense and talented LB Luke Kuechly kept on pace for a possible valuable Home-field Advantage in the NFC (Green Bay is 6-0) with the two significant victories. Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera (41-31-1 ATS) and Carolina (14/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) do have some Injury concerns coming in here with WR Kelvin Benjamin’s (Knee, Injured-Reserve) absence being the biggest obstacle, but the Panthers main WR has been out all Regular Season so this Carolina (20-8-1 ATS L29 vs. Team with Losing Record) team knows how to squeeze what it can out of the Offense and receivers like like Corey Brown, Ted Ginn Jr., Jerricho Cotchery and Rookie (Michigan) Devin Funchess have done a great job filling the void left by Benjamin’s injury. And of course, dependable Panthers veterans Newton, TE Greg Olsen and RB James Stewart are playing out of their minds, as always. On the Injury front, LB Shaq Thompson (Knee), Daryl Williams (Knee), DT Dwan Edwards (Ankle) and Mario Addison (Ankle) are all listed as Questionable here while DE Frank Alexander (Achilles) is Out for Season and LB Jared Allen (Back), FB Richie Brockel (Shoulder), DE Arthur Miley (Knee) and DE Charles Johnson (Hamstring) are all still on the Injured-Reserve List.
Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
In the last meeting between the two in this infrequent inter-conference series, the Panthers won 27-18 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in 2011, covering as a 3-point favorite while the last time they met here at Bank of America Stadium, the Colts won 37-7 and easily covered ATS as 7-point favorites, so the Road teams have done great SU and ATS the L2. The Panthers are 4-1 ATS the L5 against the Colts and with Olsen, Stewart and WR Ginn (13 receptions, 324 yards, 3 TDs), should have enough to keep Indianapolis off balance Defensively here and this game will be much more important to the Colts and much-maligned Head Coach Pagano than it will be for unbeaten Carolina. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lined this one at Panthers -2½ in its NFL Games of the Year and the Advanced Line was -3½ so you can see what the Colts ugly Loss to the Saints combined with Carolina’s sweet win over the Panthers on Sunday did to perceptions and the number—it raised it a full 3 points.
On Monday Night Football, Indianapolis is 2-5 ATS as Road Underdog and 2-6 ATS in its L8 overall while Carolina is 3-2 ATS as Home Favorite and the Panthers are 11-1 ATS when SU winner on Mondays. And with Carolina an impressive 13-6-1 ATS in their L20 Home games here at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, the team undefeated and the whole organization, city, state and region feeling good about the Panthers, the Colts are going into a Southern Snake Den at the worst possible time, even if this may be considered a must-win by Indianapolis. But with the strength of competition in the AFC South—a combined 8-19 SU into Week 8—the Colts can afford to lose this game, fall to 3-5 and still win their division which includes the Tennessee Titans (1-5), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) and Houston Texans (2-5). An accidental luxury of sorts for Indianapolis and Luck, being able to fall 2 games under .500 halfway through the Regular Season and not stress too much. Sounds like the NFC South last season, eh Carolina?
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Panthers 26 Colts 17
NFL WEEK 8 PICK: Panthers -6 (Sky Bet)