Cleveland Browns (7-7 SU, 7-5-2 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1 SU, 7-7 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 21, 1:00pm EST
Where: Bank Of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLE +3.5/CAR -3.5
Over/Under Total: 39.5
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This Sunday, the 7-7 Cleveland Browns will travel into Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the 5-8-1 Panthers. Both teams have a fighting chance to make the post season, so a win or loss this week could change everything for both of these franchises. Carolina is coming off a close win over the Buccaneers, while the Cleveland Browns are trying to get past an embarrassing 30-0 loss to the Bengals in Johnny Manziel’s first NFL start. This should be a good game and just like most NFL games, I could see this one going either way
The Panthers open as a 3.5 point favorite over the Browns, while the over under is set at 39.5 points. It appears the oddsmakers are expecting a low scoring affair in Charlotte, and based on recent history of both these teams, that is the logical choice. At this time, 71% of the action is on the Panthers to cover the spread. To me that is a little high for a game between two teams that have been so inconsistent.
The Cleveland Browns are 7-7 this season and not only need to win out to have a shot at the post season, but they need major help along the way. Last week, they decided to move on to Johnny Manziel as their starting quarterback….and boy what a train wreck that was. Johnny Football went 10 for 18 passing for 54 yards and 2 interceptions. Not only did he not throw the ball well, be he also took three sacks for a loss of a combined 26 yards. If Cleveland has a desire to win this game, they need to not only get some sort of production from Johnny Manziel and the offense, but the defense needs to step up too. Cleveland is ranked 31st in the NFL against the run, and 7th against the pass. It may sound like the pass defense is one of the top in the NFL but it really isn’t. When you are allowing nearly 140 yards a game on the ground, the other team doesn’t really need to pass all that much. Cleveland just needs to keep this game low scoring and somehow make enough plays to get the win. It will not be easy on the road, but it can be done.
The Carolina Panthers still have not made a decision on Cam Newton this week. There is a chance he could be back as the starting QB, but no announcement has been confirmed. If Newton is not back, then they will go again with Derek Anderson who just got the win last week against Tampa Bay. To win this game, the Panthers defense needs to shut down Johnny Manziel just like the Bengals did last Sunday. Statistically, the Panthers should be able to easily win this game. They are ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing, which is not a good match-up for the Browns defense. The Carolina defense appears to also have the advantage since they are ranked 12th against the pass. I can see the Panthers giving Manziel another tough day at the office.
As bad as Johnny Manziel played in his starting debut, I just do not see him doing that bad again. No, I am not saying I think he is a good QB, but I am 99% certain that he will improve from that last performance. 71% of people are riding the fact that he is on the road, I am sorry, but I just do not have much faith in the Panthers myself. With a spread of 3.5, I think that hook can be the death of a lot of bettors. I see this game coming down to the very end and someone winning it on a late field goal.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PICK THE CLEVELAND BROWNS +3.5!