Carolina Panthers(3-1SU,2-2ATS) vs.Detroit Lions(3-1SU,2-2ATS)
Date/Time:Sunday, October 8, 2017 at1PMEST
Where:Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Point Spread:CAR +2.5/DET -2.5
The Carolina Panthers take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday in a battle of 3-1 teams. Each team would like to take that next step toward having a successful season, as 4-1 sounds a lot better than 3-2. The Panthers overcame their first loss of the season to the Saints the previous week to shock the Patriots in Foxborough, 33-30, last week. They now look for their second road win a row against the Lions. Last Sunday, the Lions scored a nice 14-7 win on the road over the Vikings. Both teams have had a similar trajectory this season. Who can take it to 4-1 this week in the Motor City?
Detroit has been looking pretty good, with their only loss of the season a controversial defeat to the Falcons where it looked like they had won it at the end until a TD was overturned. They beat the Cardinals to open the season and then smashed the Giants at home. Against the Vikes, they were mired in a defensive battle. In the second half, a couple Detroit scores proved enough to lock up the win. We are seeing good things from this team, including an improving and playmaking defense, along with an offense that is clutch and might even be developing a semblance of a run-game.
The Lions had scored between 24 and 35 points in their first three games before scoring just 14 on Sunday against the Vikings. That was a tough spot for this offense, in Minnesotas stadium against a stingy defense. Stafford was economical with 209 yards, with all viable Lions ball-catchers getting a piece of the action. Dont expect those results every week, as it is a matter of time that Stafford connects big with Golden Tate or Marvin Jones. A nice development is the coming along of their run-game, with Ameer Abdullah running for 94 yards and a TD against the Vikes. With two good games already this season, the Detroit rushing attack is at least a threat this season.
The Detroit defense was excellent on Sunday, holding the Vikings to only a second-quarter touchdown. Since last season, when Detroit set the record for the most fourth-quarter comeback wins, the Detroit defense has shown how tough they are late in games. There were some standout performances against Minnesota, with Tahir Whitehead recovering two fumbles, while young defensive tackle Anthony Zettel got two sacks. Weve already seen Ziggy Ansah all over quarterbacks this season. Glover Quin and Darius Slay are making a ton of big plays in the secondary. Unless your offense is elite, this defense is a handful and then some.
With Cam Newton looking so ragged to start the season, the growing pains of promising rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, and the defense falling apart against the Saints, a 3-1 record is pretty good for a Panthers team looking to recapture the form they showed in 2015. Newton appears to be in full-bloom and a lot of guys are contributing on offense. And the defense still has a lot of bite. Its still early, but there are signs that they have put the disappointment of last season behind them.
Newton was excellent against the Patriots last week, helping score a win that could go a long way mentally for this Panthers bunch. Newton threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, while also flashing some of his old running ability with 44 yards and a rushing TD. RB Jonathan Stewart was useful with 68 yards. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin had a big performance with 104 yards. A nice development is the continued progress of former first-rounder Devin Funchess (questionable), who hauled in two touchdowns on the day. Big Ed Dickson had some nice grabs, while Fozzy Whitaker added a TD catch, as well.
After giving up a total of 6 points in their first two games, the Panthers have allowed 64 combined points in their last two games. But the opponents had a lot to do with that. They werent very good against the Saints. Against the powerful Patriots offense, they had held them to 16 points for nearly 3-and-a-half quarters, before the Pats staged a late-game comeback. Still, the defense was a big part of that win. We saw an active line, with Julius Peppers getting two sacks, while Kawann Short added another. Luke Kuechly was typically active and weve seen this unit making a lot of plays this season. The secondary gave up over 300 to Brady, but theyve been otherwise pretty solid this season.
Carolina is facing a tough back-to-back road spot against the tough Lions. I see the Carolina offense having less success this week, with Detroit also having trouble overcoming a tough Panthers D. I see the Panthers being pretty good this season, as Detroit also is. But in a game that has a toss-up feel to it, Im inclined to take the points. Im taking the Carolina Panthers.
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