Carolina Panthers (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1 SU, 1-1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date and Time: September 28, @ 1:00 PM E
Where: MT@T Bank Stadium
TV: DirectTV Sunday Ticket
by Jeff Hochman, Pro Handicapper, JHSportsline.com
Point Spread: CAR +3/BALT-3
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The Carolina Panthers travels to Baltimore in this pivotal non-conference Week four matchup against the Ravens. The winner will look good sitting at 3-1, while the loser will feel some frustration at 2-2. The road team is coming off its first loss of the season last week on Sunday Night Football. Carolina lost 37-19 as 3-point home chalk and were outgained by 105 yards. The Panthers are just 1-2 ITS (in the stats) this season. The Ravens defeated Cleveland 23-21 as 1.5-point road favorites. Justin Tucker kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. Baltimore outgained the Browns by just 2 yards and are a perfect 3-0 ITS this year. The Ravens have won the stats in five straight games dating back to last season. They are 4-1 SU and 3-1-1 ATS during this stretch.
Injuries are mounting up for both teams. The Panthers have 8 players listed as questionable, while the Ravens have 5 players listed as questionable. Dennis Pitta is out for the year and he’s been a favorite target of Joe Flacco. The Panthers allowed 264 rushing yards and 28 second half points in last week”s defeat. While the defense will be much improved in this game, the lack of a running game is a real concern. Carolina is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and has yet to have a running back top 100 yards. The lack of running game is putting a lot of pressure on Cam Newton. With Newton not being 100%, he’s still completing 66.7% of his passes. The offensive line is starting to show everyone why they were ranked No.32 at the start of the season. They have allowed 7 sacks in the last two games and are struggling mightily in the running game.
Defensively, the Panthers are allowing 347 yards per game and have forced six turnovers and eight sacks. Luke Kuechly has been all over the field making plays. He leads the Panthers with 34 tackles in three games. The Ravens have a very good offensive line that has been playing together for quite some time. Steve Smith Sr. has been a great addition for this offense. Six of his 18 receptions have been for more than 20 yards and he leads the Ravens with 290 receive yards. Smith Sr. is a big time competitor and his experience has really helped the rest of the offense. The other Smith (Torrey) will be a nightmare matchup for anyone in the Panthers’ secondary. Joe Flacco looks much smoother in this offense. He is completing 61.5% and has four touchdowns versus two interceptions. The Ravens haven’t missed Ray Rice at all. The combination of Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett has rushed for more than 300 yards, while helping the Ravens average 4.6 yards per carry. The Ravens can run the ball and stop the run. Two big keys to winning in the NFL. The Panthers will have a chance to win this game if the defense bounces back from an embarrassing performance last week. I don’t see Carolina being able to win a shootout without much help at running back and wide receiver. Kelvin Benjamin is an emerging stud and he will see a lot of double-teams from this Ravens defense. Look for some blitz packages that will test Cam Newton’s ability to escape.
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The Ravens are coming off an emotional win in a game they could have easily lost. Lets hope the Ravens don’t suffer a letdown. They are well-coached so I don’t see that being an issue. Baltimore is 9-4 SU and 9-4 ATS after a division game over the last three seasons. The Public likes the Panthers to bounce back at a tune of 81%, but the line hasn’t moved at all. The Odds-makers believe these two teams are even at this point of the season. The majority of home field advantage is 3 points in the NFL. So if this game was played at Carolina the line would be Panthers minus -3. The wise guys will tell you that the Panthers are not as good as their 2-1 record indicates. One of the Panthers’ victories was against Tampa Bay, with Josh McCown playing quarterback. Lets not forget about their major issues on the offensive line and in the secondary. Baltimore’s front seven should have its way with this current Panthers’ offensive line. On the flip side, If the Ravens’ offensive line gives Flacco and company enough time, this should be an easy win against an overrated team in my opinion.
Carolina is 3-1 SU and 3-1 ATS all time against the Ravens. However, the Ravens won the most recent matchup by a score of 37-13 back in 2010. The Panthers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games following a straight up loss. The Ravens are 6-2 SU and 6-2 ATS off a win against a Conference rival.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Baltimore Ravens -3
The home team is 13-6-1 ATS in Baltimore games. I am not sold on Carolina this year as a playoff team. The Ravens are a team on a mission after last year’s flop, and they are 5-1 SU against the NFC South of late. I’ll take the Ravens at home at minus -3 points or less.