Patriots vs. Panthers Monday Night Football Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, November 18, 2013 12:57 PM GMT

The Carolina Panthers have the best defense in the NFL. The New England Patriots are average on offense this year. Is pounding the UNDER your best NFL bet for Monday night?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 16 inclusive:

25-21-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

4-8-1 Totals

Sometimes, it pays to be patient. When the Week 11 NFL odds opened on Nov. 10, there was a total of 44 points up on the board for our latest episode of Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), featuring the New England Patriots at the Carolina Panthers. Fast forward one week, and the total has risen all the way up to 47 points, even though our consensus reports show a fairly even split down the middle between OVER and UNDER. Dee-lightful.

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Blue is the Warmest Defense

You may have already guessed that I have designs on the UNDER in this matchup. And you are correct. As previously indicated, the Panthers have the top defense in the league, at least according to the prevailing wisdom of the Football Outsiders efficiency charts. If you prefer the solace of more conventional stats, Carolina is No. 4 in yards per play allowed at 4.8, and No. 4 in takeaways at 21.

On the other side of the field, as I mentioned in my piece on Monday’s point spread, the Patriots offense has sunk to No. 14 this year. Having said that, business has been picking up of late. The Pats have scored at least 27 points in each of their last four games, sending the OVER to a 3-1 record in that span. This requires further investigation.

Somebody Stop Me

The three OVER results in question were produced against the New Orleans Saints (OVER 51), the New York Jets (OVER 43), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (OVER 42.5). These are events that did happen, so it’s important that I don’t try to sweep them under the rug. But I’ll point out anyway that the Steelers have the No. 27-ranked defense in the NFL, and the Saints have the No. 2 offense. Also, that Jets game featured two interception returns for touchdowns, and went into overtime.

Speaking of defense, New England is about to welcome CB Aqib Talib back into the fold. That’s according to a Sunday night tweet from Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe, who reports that Talib traveled to Carolina with the team and is expected to play against the Panthers. Talib has missed three games with a hip flexor strain; up until that point, he was one of the best cornerbacks in the league this year, with four interceptions and nine passes defended in six games.

The Man They Call Vereen

All right, having said that, we have to acknowledge that the Pats secondary will be missing CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and safety Steve Gregory (thumb) on Monday. Also, RB Shane Vereen (4.5 yards per carry lifetime) is about to make his return for New England. We’ve been talking a lot about how QB Tom Brady’s cheese has been left hanging in the wind without his usual complement of targets on offense. Vereen is a very good change-of-pace back with plus speed and soft hands who could cause Carolina some trouble.

The Panthers also have some players coming in and out of the lineup, and as far as the effects go, it’s pretty much a wash between offense and defense. Injuries and personnel changes are par for the course in this league, especially as these players get deeper into the season and get their bells rung on multiple occasions. Too bad we can’t throw some rain into the mix, as well, although temperatures will be dipping into the low-50s at kick-off. Every little bit of misery helps.

NFL Pick: Take UNDER 47 (–105) at Bovada