Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview

Carolina Panthers (3-2) +3, O/U 33 at Baltimore Ravens (4-1), 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday, Fox regional
by Staff

The NFC’s Carolina Panthers visit the AFC’s Baltimore Ravens in what should be a good, tough inter-conference clash Sunday afternoon in Poe City.

After losing their first two games of the season, Carolina has won three in a row and sits in 3rd place in the NFC South, one game back of the division-leading New Orleans Saints.

Baltimore opened this season by beating the Buccaneers in Tampa and the Oakland Raiders at home by a combined score of 55-6. But the Ravens had to come from behind to defeat the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers in the waning moments in consecutive weeks.

Then Baltimore continued with its offensive struggles and got beat in Denver by the Broncos 13-3 on Monday night. So the Ravens still own first place in the AFC North, but their lead is just a half-game over the 2nd-place Cincinnati Bengals.

The Panthers gave up 252 rushing yards to the Atlanta Falcons in a season-opening 20-6 home loss. But since that, Carolina has allowed an average of 90 yards rushing PG.

Baltimore’s defense ranks 2nd in the NFL by allowing just 220 total yards per game, 3rd at 74 rushing yards allowed PG, 4th in points allowed (46), and 2nd in both sacks (18) and interceptions (9).

But the Ravens defense has to be good, because the offense isn’t. Baltimore ranks 29th in total offense at 268 yards PG and 24th in rushing at 97 yards PG. And QB Steve McNair, although he’s helped the team immensely with his experience and leadership, owns a mediocre 56% completion rate and a 5/6 TD/INT ratio.

The Panther D ranks 18th in total yards by giving up 323 PG, and the offense ranks 23rd at 290 YPG. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme has hit on 60% of his pass attempts this season and owns a 4/1 TD/INT ratio.

But the big problem for the Panthers this year has been 3rd down. Carolina went 0-11 on 3rd down last week vs. Cleveland, and ranks dead last in the league with a 19% 3rd-down conversion rate.

The Panthers are also 0-4-1 against the spread this season. Baltimore is 3-2 ATS.

Carolina WR Steve Smith missed the first two games of this season with a couple of injuries. The Panthers scored 19 points in those two games. Since Smiths return to the lineup, Carolina has scored 67 points in three games.

These two teams haven’t met since the 2002 regular season.

The Panthers went 6-2 straight up on the road last season and are 1-1 away from home this season.

The Ravens went 6-2 SU at home last season, and they’re 2-0 at home this year.

Carolina announced this week that LB Dan Morgan, the most experienced of the Panthers LBs, will miss the rest of this season with concussion-related health problems.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at rank Baltimore 10th at 23.6, Carolina 18th at 20.0.

The O/U is a combined 1-8 in Panthers and Ravens games this season.