Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-5 SU, 1-5-0 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, October 30, 2016, 1:00 PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 709
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARI +2.5/CAR -2.5
Over/Under Total: 48
What a difference a year can make.
Back in late January when the Arizona Cardinals traveled to Bank of America Stadium to take on the Carolina Panthers the two were meeting in the NFC Championship game and playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl. This time, both teams are just trying to keep their heads above water in what has turned into a topsy-turvy 2016 season.
The 3-3-1 Cardinals will be trying to get back above .500 for the season in an effort to stay within striking distance of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. Of course, the Cards had the ultimate chance to put a dent into the Seahawks divisional lead when the two met on Sunday Night Football last week, but missed field goals by both teams in overtime wound up causing the game to end in a, 6-6, tie. The tie was especially hard for Arizona because the Cardinals controlled the game on both sides of the ball, but a blocked field goal in the first half and the doink of the upright in OT left Arizona two games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings.
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But as bad as the Cardinals feel following their missed chance on Sunday night, they can take solace in knowing that at least they are not in the same position that the Panthers find themselves in going into week eight.
The Panthers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak that has dropped them to 1-5 on the season and find themselves in the cellar looking up at the entire NFC South division. However, the Panthers will be coming off a much-needed bye week to get refocused for the rematch with the Cardinals, and despite the losing streak the Panthers are still only two games behind the Falcons in the NFC South standings. It will be a tough climb back into the divisional standings, but it’s a climb the Panthers can still make.
A quick look at the betting odds for Sunday’s game shows us that not a whole lot has changed in the nine months since the last time these two met inside Bank of America Stadium, as the Panthers are still sitting as the standard 3-point favorites role given to most home teams in the NFL and the over/under total is sitting at a similar 48 total (was 47 in the NFC title game in January). There are a few sportsbooks that have dropped the game to Carolina minus -2.5, but that number comes at a cost as it has extra juice attached to it (up to -120 or -125) as those books try and get bettors to wager on the visiting Cardinals in order to balance a ton of “sharp” money currently sitting on the Panthers (up to 77% at some houses).
When these two met in the NFC title game, it featured two of the league’s best defenses. But the Panthers defense has fallen on hard times in 2016, dropping all the way to 24th in league in yards allowed and an even worse 29th-ranking in points allowed with a mark of 29.3 points allowed per game. Say what you will about the Panthers decision to let CB Josh Norman walk away in the offseason, but its proving to be a huge loss as the Panthers pass defense is getting gouged in huge hunks this season (282 ypg – 26th) and its their now very young secondary that will certainly be a focus for Arizona coach Bruce Ariens and QB Carson Palmer when they put together this week’s game plan.
The Panthers offense led by reigning MVP Cam Newton has been holding up their end of the bargain this year (ranked 4th at 394 ypg), but they have struggled against good defenses this season (losses at Denver and Minnesota), and the Cardinals defensive unit looked in top form last week when they held the Seahawks to 257 total yards and forced nine punts.
Historically, Carolina has owned the “rivalry” against the Cardinals, going 7-3 SU since the 2005 season including a 4-1 SU mark at home in Charlotte. The Panthers have been nearly as strong at the betting window in the series too, going 6-4 ATS over the same time span including the last two meetings and a Panther cover in the NFC title in January.
Other betting trends to note would be the knowledge that this has been a home team-dominated series, as the home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings. Carolina is also 7-2 ATS in their last nine home games, and the Cardinals are just 2-5 ATS against teams in the NFC. However, the Panthers have notoriously struggled coming off their bye week (2-5 ATS), so take that knowledge with you as you handicap this game.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Both teams really need to win this game to stay alive in their divisions. Arizona will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after last week’s disappointing tie, and the Panthers will have had two weeks to game plan and prepare … making this one a tough one to handicap in my opinion. So I’m going to hope that both defenses will step up their games in the rematch, so I’m taking the under of 48.
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