Embarrassed Steelers Face Rock-Ribbed Panther Defense
By Charles Jay
The Carolina Panthers were happy last week when they got back Cam Newton and won their second straight game. They really don’t care how pretty they look when they win, but on Sunday they will encounter a team that looked downright ugly in their last outing, as they entertain the Pittsburgh Steelers in NFL betting action that is slated to begin at 8:30 PM ET at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, televised on NBC.
BetAnySports customers might be asking, how good are the Panthers? That may be a legitimate question, as they won against a dysfunctional offense (Tampa Bay) in the opener, although they were forced to go with backup QB Derek Anderson as Newton sat out with a rib injury. It was a nice effort on the part of the defense to hold the Detroit Lions to a single touchdown in last week’s 24-7 victory, and newton threw for 281 yards.
The Steelers looked like world-beaters as they started their season, getting off to a 27-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns, but then they collapsed on defense as the Browns came back to tie, before a field goal with time running out led the Steelers to a very fortunate win. last week a lot of NFL bettors saw an opportunity for Pittsburgh, as the Baltimore Ravens were dealing with the Ray Rice incident and his release that Monday. But they appeared to lay down, gaining barely 300 yards in a 26-6 pasting.
In the NFL betting lines that are posted on this game at BetAnySports, the Panthers are favored by a field goal:
Carolina Panthers -3 (-120)
Pittsburgh Steelers +3 (+100)
Over 42 Points -110
Under 42 Points -110
Yes, the Panthers have won both games thus far. And Newton, who was once chastised for his leadership skills, seems to have an inspirational effect. But when looking at this offense, football bettors can’t escape the reality that it isn’t much better than ordinary. Newton did find seven different targets last weekend, but people like Jericho Cotchery and Jason Avant are not going to scare enemy defenses, and Kelvin Benjamin (17.3 yards per catch) is just a rookie. The running game has been nothing dominant (3.1 ypc). So what we’re saying is that Dick LeBeau may be able to cook up a scheme to put this attack in a position where it has to reach for a “Plan B” that isn’t there.
BetAnySports customers know that the Steelers are looking to implement more and more of the no-huddle look on offense, but to do that they have to do the job on the ground. LeGarrette Blount has not been a major contributor to date, so that mans Le’veon Bell (5.3 ypc) has to carry the load. Ben Roethlisberger can improvise, as we know, and he doesn’t have to worry about Carolina’s Pro Bowl defensive end, Greg Hardy, another guy (yes, there are a few) who is inactive until he gets his domestic abuse case straightened out.
Even without Hardy, the Panthers are formidable in the stop unit, and that is primarily because of Luke Kuechly, who has become perhaps the NFL’s premier middle linebacker. He covers so much ground that on one play against the Lions, he was seen about thirty yards down the field breaking up a Matthew Stafford pass. Carolina won’t be challenged by a super-stud receiver like Calvin Johnson this week; Big Ben wishes he had people like that at his disposal, and that is probably why he’s had difficulty stretching things out. Those BetAnySports patrons taking the long look at the NFL betting odds this week may want to take note that the Panthers have gone 7-0-1 against the football pointspread the last eight times they have laid points at home. This number may be agreeable for them.
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