Carolina Panthers (4-6 SU, 2-7-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +3.5/OAK -3.5
Over/Under Total: 49
The Carolina Panthers come to the Bay Area on Sunday to face the Oakland Raiders. Itís a big game for both teams, but especially for Carolina. They are coming off the long week following their third win in four games last Thursday with a win over the New Orleans Saints. After a 1-5 start, the defending conference champions are 4-5 and in an NFC South where no team is taking the lead, they are in there with a shot. The Raiders moved their AFC West-leading record to 8-2 on Monday Night Football in Mexico City with a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans. On a short week after a game on foreign soil, they must now face a rested and desperate Carolina team that has shown they can engineer drastic turnarounds before.
Monday was no easy task for Oakland. They needed some customary late Derek Carr dramatics with some help from the officials to notch the big win. There were at least 3 unconscionable rulings that may have been the margin in the game. In this bottom-line business, they won and they covered the spread and thatís what counts. The Raiders are 8-2 and a really good team, but they wonít always look like it. On MNF, they were flat for much of the game. Carr has been terrific in clutch spots this season and he added to that reputation with the big win in Mexico.
Late in the game, Carr connected with Amari Cooper for the go-ahead score. After Houston was dubiously denied a first down and turned the ball over on downs deep in Oakland territory, Carr and Company wasted little time getting downfield, saving their best form for the most critical of spots. Carr didnít get a lot of support in the run-game on Monday, but as he often does, he was still able to get the backs to produce. Murray had some big plays in the pass, including a 39-yard play on their go-ahead drive. Running backs Jalen Richard and Jamize Olawale each caught touchdowns, with Odawaleís being for 75 yards. Carr wasnít really able to turn it loose against a really good Houston secondary, with most of his production in passing yards coming from big catch-and-run plays. Either way, they got the job done.
The Oakland defense started the season in horrible shape on a record-setting scale. While theyíre not going to be a good defense, they have managed to not be a bad one in recent weeks. Teams are staying in the 20ís in scoring for the most part and with the offense in decent shape, thatís good enough. They just canít be terrible and theyíre not, getting a click better over the course of the season. On multiple occasions, they have been able to come through in a pinch. Different guys step up in different games to register big plays.
The Panthers have really had to put forth a big effort simply to get to 4-6. In a lot of divisions, they would be facing a dire situation, but not in the NFC South. At the same time, with several teams in with a shot at the conference, they canít afford too many more setbacks over the last 6 games of the season. They got the win against the Saints last Thursday after nearly squandering a 23-3 second half lead. Their offense didnít move much in the second half, but a win is a win, especially when it hasnít been easy to get in the win- column this season for Carolina.
The defense looked a lot better for Carolina against a powerful Saints offense that had really started dialing it in recent weeks with Drew Brees putting up huge numbers and the run-game on a big roll. Carolina put a stop to that. It wasnít a totally-positive night, though, with the scary-looking concussion suffered by their top defensive player in Luke Kuechly. The defense will be moving forward without him for the time being, but the rest of the unit is coming together in recent weeks and how they perform over the next 6 games will determine the Panthersí fate. This week looks to be a big test on the road against Oakland.
The Carolina offense hasnít really gotten things to click on a consistent basis this season. Battered this season with a line that has been suspect on occasion, Cam Newton has seen his production drop off precipitously this season. The run-game has been a mixed bag, but largely ineffective. There is talent through the air, with Kelvin Benjamin having a strong bounce-back season and Greg Olsen his normal productive self. Ted Ginn was huge against the Saints with a dynamite TD catch. Itís just an incomplete package this season with the line not controlling the line of scrimmage and Newton not in vintage form.
Still, there are a lot of guys on that Panthersí sideline who have battled back before from rough patches to thrive. Still, this is a rough cross-conference road game a lot of miles from home. Carolina is rested after the Thursday appearance, but Oakland did have the bye before this last game and shouldnít be too depreciated from the MNF Mexico experience. Carolina maybe needs this more than Oakland, but unlike the Panthers, Oakland is in a conference where nearly every team is doing well. And after having so little success in recent seasons, they should still be a hungry team even at 8-2. Anticipating Carolina coming around and snapping magically back into peak form could be a foolís game, but enough signs point to a strong stretch run for the Panthers and I think they get the cover this week.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Carolina Panthers plus 3.5 points.
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