Indianapolis Colts (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Monday, November 2, 2015, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IND +6.5/CAR -6.5
Over/Under Total: 46
Monday Night Footballs week eight matchup featuring the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers should have been a marquee meeting between the preseason favorite in the AFC South and the preseason favorite in the NFC South, but now it will turn into must-see television as NFL fans tune into ESPN to see if the Colts can continue their climb back into the AFC playoff picture when they travel to the hostile venue of Bank of America Stadium.
Carolina has held up their end of the favorite-hype thus far in 2015, keeping their record perfect at 6-0 with a Sunday Night primetime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-16. The Panthers went on the road at won at Seattle before their bye week, and followed it with a win over Philly after the bye week, so if you dont think the Panthers are legit contenders in the NFC than you have some pretty stiff criteria for a contender.
The road back to the AFC title game has been a tough one for Indy in 2015. The Colts suffered their second straight loss at home last weekend to New Orleans, 27-21, in a game they fell behind 27-0 in the third quarter and never really threatened in anyway. With Andrew Luck dinged up and a defense that is ranked last in the league allowing over 400 yards of offense a game, it road back to redemption for the Colts is starting to look like a roadblock.
With another home game in front of a national television audience on tap, oddsmakers staked the Panthers as 7-point favorites when the opening point spread went up on the board. The number dropped to minus -6.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks, but after a full 24 hours of steam at the window the number has held tight right at minus -7 at a majority of sportsbooks both offshore and in Las Vegas. The over/under total opened at 46 and has moved the hook to 46.5 at a few books.
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Most of the offseason moves the Colts made were made to address the offensive side of the ball and to help Luck lead the Colts back into the final rounds of the playoffs, but it has sort of backfired on them thus far. Frank Gore and the Colts running game is still struggling to take pressure off Luck (only 93.6 ypg 26th), and an overall lack of quality offensive line play in general has gotten the franchise QB knocked around so much he missed games earlier in the season with a bum shoulder. The Panthers strength on defense is their 8th-ranked secondary (229 ypg), so it will be interesting to see how the Colts choose to attack them on offense this week playing with their backs to the wall in the middle of a losing streak.
You havent really heard much about Cam Newton this year and for the Panthers thats a good thing, because theres no doubt that Newtons maturity at the position over the past few years is a huge reason they are still undefeated at this point of the season. Despite thinning their running back crew by one over the winter (DeAngelo Williams is now in Pittsburgh), the Panthers still grind out the leagues best rushing stats each week with over 144 yards a game on the ground behind holdovers James Stewart and Mike Tolbert. When defenses commit to stopping the Panthers run game, Newton has had easy pickings with Greg Olsen and a resurgent Ted Ginn Jr. over the middle and the combination has help the score over 27 points per game (6th). As mentioned, the Colts defense has been gouged at record rates and its been via the run (allowing 122 ypg 23rd) almost as much as the pass (285 ypg 28th).
With the small sample size of only five all-time meetings between these two franchises, Carolina has owned it winning four of the five including the last meeting in 2011 in Indy, 27-19. Ironically the only victory in the series for the Colts was the last time they traveled to Charlotte, but that was back when Peyton Manning was still QBing for the Colts.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Colts need to win this game, but theyre going to have a hard time passing it against the Panthers secondary to do it. They are going to hard time stopping the Panthers run game too. Indy has been playing from behind all season long because of that defense and this week it hurts them again. Im taking Carolina minus the points here, especially if you can find it at -6.5 still.
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