Kirk Cousins just had another one of his amazing performances, but the big money says the Carolina Panthers are the right NFL pick for Sunday's game against Washington.
Jason's 2015 record as of Nov. 17: 39-34-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 22-29 Total
Every once in a while, Kirk Cousins goes off. Cousins did a number on the New Orleans Saints last week, going 20-of-25 for 324 yards, four touchdowns and zero picks as Washington (+1 at home) prevailed 47-14. It was so bad, the Saints fired defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan after the game.
So how do bettors feel about Washington's chances this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) against the undefeated Carolina Panthers? Somewhat upbeat, according to our early consensus reports. We're looking at a slight 53-percent lean at the open with Washington getting up to 7.5 points on the road. However, our expanded numbers at press time show Carolina pulling in nearly two-thirds of the action. The average bet on the Panthers: $102. On Washington: $44.
If only Cousins would go off like that just a bit more often, we could probably get away with putting D.C. in our NFL picks every time. But let's dial back our appreciation for last week's effort just a little. According to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, once you factor in how bad the New Orleans defense has been this year, Cousins ranks fifth out of all Week 10 quarterbacks at +95 Total DYAR.
One spot ahead of Cousins? Carolina QB Cam Newton (+96 Total DYAR). We haven't heard nearly as much about Newton's performance against the Tennessee Titans: 21-of-26 for 217 yards and a touchdown. But the Titans have a much better defense than New Orleans, and Newton also rushed for 25 yards, picking up five first downs and a TD as the Panthers (–3.5 away) won 27-10.
Newton's Laws of Motion
This would normally be where I go on a rant about how the betting public undervalues dual-threat quarterbacks of African-American descent. But I'll settle for making this quick drive-by. I'll also point out that Cousins (+499 Total DYAR) is actually having a better season than Newton (+264 Total DYAR) thus far, even once you take the ground game into account.
We can't say the same thing for Washington's defense. Things certainly aren't as bad as they were last year, thanks in part to some better luck with injuries, but the D.C. defense still ranks No. 21 overall (No. 19 pass, No. 20 rush) in efficiency. Carolina is back in its customary place near the top of the charts at No. 3 overall (No. 3 pass, No. 13 rush).
Note that these efficiency stats are based on the entire season up to this point. The Panthers had to do without arguably their best player, LB Luke Kuechly, for three games earlier this year. Then they traded for DE Jared Allen after beating the Saints in Week 3. This defense is so good, we wouldn't even dream about fading the Panthers this Sunday, even if they're laying all those points on the NFL odds board.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Panthers -7 at SportsInteraction