Green Bay Packers (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Week 2 NFL, Sunday, September 18, 2011, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., TV: FOX
by Badger, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -10.5/CAR +10.5
Over/Under Total: 45
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Cam Newton was impressive in his debut as the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, but it still ended in a bittersweet defeat in the opener. Now the rookie will try and lead the Panthers past the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers for his first professional victory, when the Packers travel to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for a week two NFC clash.
Newton, the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in last years NFL draft, threw for 422 yards and two scores in his NFL debut but the Panthers still wound up short in the Arizona desert, 28-21. But after performing better than most people expected, including poise and a knowledge of the playbook he has yet to show in his short stint as a pro, Newton and the Panthers are looking for a big splash like the kind of one an upset over the Packers in his home debut would create.
GB picked up right where they left off last February in their season opening, 42-34, victory over the New Orleans Saints, with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looking nearly unstoppable. But before we crown them back-to-back champs there are plenty of flaws on defense for the Packers to work on, and the offense sputtered a little in the second half and nearly let the Saints back into the game, so dont expect the Pack to be gracious guests in Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas arent giving the Panthers much of a chance to spring an upset in this game, setting the opening point spread with the Packers as 10-point favorites on the road. So far the bettors going to the window agree, since there is enough early money coming in on Green Bay that it has moved the number up to 10.5-points at some of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web.
The over/under total opened at 45.5 and has seen a bunch of early line movement in both directions, dropping as low as 45 at a few sportsbooks and as high as 46.5 at a few more, so shop around if you want to move the total a full point in your direction.
Offensively the Panthers had a lot of bright spots despite the loss in the opener. They did tally 26 first downs, nearly twice as many as the Cardinals in the game. They also welcomed Steve Smith back to being relevant, as the veteran receiver broke loose for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
But the Packers best defense is its offense, which looked in post-season form in the opener. After racing out to a 28-17 halftime lead the Packers offense did lose focus in the third quarter a little, but that may have been due to the blitzing style of the Saints defense, something Carolina might try and copy this weekend.
The Panthers defense will try and contain Rodgers better than they contained Kevin Kolb of Arizona last week. Kolb was effective (309 yards, 2 TD) due to the fact he was not pressured very much (2 sacks), something the must get on Rodgers or he will pick them apart with his crew of receivers on the perimeter.
Its been a few years since these two have met on the gridiron, with the Panthers winning the last time they met in 2008 in a 35-31 shootout. The Packers outgained the Panthers 448-to-298 in the game, but they just couldnt contain DeAngelo Williams who had four touchdown runs in the contest.
All told the Packers hold the edge in the series, winning six of the last 10 games straight up, while holding a slim 5-3-1 ATS advantage at the window for bettors. The over has been profitable of late too, cashing in for the last three games and in six of the last 10 as well (over is 6-3-1 since 1997).
The Packers do seem to like Charlotte though, as they are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six visits to play in Carolina. The Packers are also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as the favorite as well, giving bettors plenty of trends to follow if they so choose.
The under wager is also a trend play this week, going 9-2 in the Packers last 11 games on the road and 4-0-1 in the last five games the Panthers were 10-point underdogs. In fact, the Panthers have gone under in 35 of their last 52 home games, a nearly 70 percent clip for those of you scoring at home (67.3%).
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Double digit home dog and a team that played well on the road last week? Gimme those points! Take the Panthers at +10.5!
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