Carolina Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR -3/JAX +3
Over/Under Total: 41
The Carolina Panthers come to EverBank Stadium to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one of the 2015 NFL season. The agendas for each team are a bit different heading into the new NFL season. Carolina, though only 7-8-1 last season, has won the NFC South twice in a row and looks to make it three in 2015. Jacksonville, however, is just looking for something positive to build on after going 9-39 in their last three seasons.
One positive byproduct of losing is that you get high draft picks. Not all of Jacksonvilles have worked out, namely promising receiver Justin Blackmon. But Blake Bortles may be another story and the young QB could still end up working out. This year, he will need to take a step forward, get his mechanics smoother, and display more accuracy. But kudos to Bortles for sticking it out and showing heart in what was a tough season in 2014. He didnt get an awful lot of help. Maybe some is on the way in 2015.
The Jaguars offense should get a boost from incoming Alabama freshman TJ Yeldon. Also helping in the run game will be Denard Robinson, who was decent in 2014, but not really a featured back in a true sense. Bernard Pierce and Storm Johnson offer additional support in the backfield. And its hard to not get excited when seeing how well the young receivers played for this squad at times last year. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee were all rookies and should be better this year, as this offense starts to grow in stature. Rookie Rashad Greene could offer some help. They added productive TE Julius Thomas over the offseason, who along with Marcedes Lewis, makes for a formidable 1-2 punch at the tight end position.
The Jaguars could see the offensive line get better, as well. Another high draft pick from the recent past, Luke Joeckel is coming round nicely. Rookie AJ Cann looks like he could be a presence on this line for years to come. They added C Stefan Wisniewski. G Brandon Linder, G Zane Beadles, and T Jermey Parnell, who rounds out a big line that should get better.
DEPOSIT $250 AND GET $250 FREE AT GTBETS!
The Jacksonville defense, however, is a very mixed bag. A lot of stars are going to need to line up right in the form of young players developing for this group to even reach the ranks of the semi-respectable. On the line, they have decent talent at tackle, with a pair of aging ends in Alan Branch and Chris Clemons. Paul Posluszny is the star of the second level and a real tone-setter for this defense. Linebackers Telvin Smith and Dan Skuta look to add something to the middle of the field, which shouldnt be all that bad. The secondary is relying on continued player growthsomething that isnt guaranteed. For this group to shine, Craig Loston, Jonathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz, and Aaron Colvin will need to form more cohesion and simply be a lot better. It seems like defensively, a lot of positive breaks will need to fall Jacksonvilles way for this unit to sufficiently improve.
Carolinas Cam Newton is back for his 5th season and has steadily rounded into a dependable force as an NFL starting quarterback. On offense, there is ample depth, but perhaps a lack of one true difference-maker that can change a teams fortunes in close gamessomething that the Panthers have a lot of. Losing emergent WR Kelvin Benjamin for the season was a loss the Panthers could ill-afford. But there is depth here, with Jericho Cotchcery, Tedd Ginn, and first-round draft pick Devin Funchess needing to carry the load. And having a great ball-catching tight end like Greg Olsen is a nice luxury to have. The run-game will be led by Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewartgood players but not necessarily backs of the playmaking variety. On paper, at least, Carolinas offense looks to have a lack of truly-impactful skill players. Also of concern is a thin offensive line, featuring a pair of solid forces like C Ryan Kalil and incoming RT Michael Oher,
along with a slew of question marks that force us to have a wait-and-see approach. Last season, Newton was under a lot of pressure and the run game was a non-entity more often than not. That needs to get better for the Panthers to make a meaningful run in 2015.
Carolina relies on its toughness and nastiness, in the mold of its head coach Ron Rivera, a longtime NFL defensive architect. And on D is where you see his football philosophy manifest. Up front, Kony Ealy could come around in his second season, with Charles Johnson a dependable force. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis make that second level truly special. First-round pick LB Shaq Thompson could make this group even better, which would be scary. In the secondary, Bene Benwickere, Tre Boston, Roman Harper, and Josh Norman struggled in 2014 and are now joined by vet Charles Tillman and Chris Houston to provide some relief. How far Carolina goes this season could come down to whether this D plays like they did in 2013 when they were fantastic or more like last season when they were more erratic.
Carolina is a blue-collar team that has developed a lot of character over the past two seasons by overcoming adversity. In 2013, they overcame a 1-3 start to almost run the table and win 12 games. Then last season, nearly everyone stuck a fork in them and though they benefitted from a historically-weak NFC South division, getting to first place showed a lot of grit. The experience of the past two years has made this a hardened, battle-tempered group.
If some stars line up well for Jacksonville, their offense could be pretty good. A lot of rookies from last year will need to show an upward trajectory this season in their form. And the same level of development will need to be seen on the other side of the ball, as well. Its asking a lot. But if Jacksonville can keep a flat road Carolina offense from getting untracked, they should be able to hang in there with a shot to win. Im taking the Jags.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus 3 points. Where are you betting on football games this season? Does your bookie offer you discounted odds? No! You’re laying -110 which is EXPENSIVE! Dump your over-priced sportsbook TODAY and start wagering at -105 which will save you a TON of cash! –> 5Dimes.
Additional NFL Football Betting Previews