LA Rams vs. Carolina Panthers Total Pick
Los Angeles Rams (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Football Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday September 8th, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C
Point Spread:LAR -3/CAR +3 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 50
An intriguing Week 1 match-up will take place at Bank of America Stadium when the Los Angeles Rams go on the road to meet the Carolina Panthers in the season opener. The Rams are the reigning NFC Champions and are still among the most dangerous teams in the league, especially on the offensive side of the football. However, the Rams are favored by a mere 3 points in their opening trip to Charlotte against a Panthers team that has a lot of question marks following last year’s 7-9 campaign. While the 3 point spread seems narrow, I do agree with oddsmakers who are expecting a close game. However, I think the number everyone should be surprised about is the total which has been inflated to an improbable level.
Reasons to bet the under
I believe the total for this game is a combination of the polarizing figures on both offenses combined with the fact the Panthers struggled severely on defense in 2018. By now everyone should be aware of Cam Newton’s lingering shoulder issue during the 2nd half of 2018, but people may have failed to realize is that the defenses suffered significantly because the offense could not stay on the field. Despite a tradition of housing elite defenses, the Panthers defense took a big step back in 2018 by relinquishing 23.9 points per game which ranked 19th in the NFL. Those numbers may not seem horrible, but you also must consider the Panthers have consistently been one of the best groups in the league under Ron Rivera.
The Panthers biggest weakness last season was failing to get pressure on the quarterback which shined the light on their biggest weakness in the secondary. The good news is that the Panthers acquired some talent over the offseason in the likes of DT Gerald McCoy, DE Bruce Irvin, and first-round draft pick DE Brian Burns. The defensive line added some athleticism that will help them transition to a 3-4 defense for the first time. The talent has improved up front, and it should have correlative effects on the overall defense, which is extremely important when you are facing a team like Los Angeles in Week 1. So while on paper may suggest the Panthers’ defense is mediocre, I am expecting the group to take a big step forward in 2019.
Additionally, let’s not just hand the Rams any ‘given’ points to start the season. Yes, the Rams were amazing on offense last year. QB Jared Goff began the year as one of the top quarterbacks in the league, with an extremely talented receiving corps in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Meanwhile, the Rams also had the top running back in the NFL in Todd Gurley who helped compile one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. As we all know, the offense took a beating with injuries down the stretch which handicapped their production. Gurley was not effective in the playoffs with lingering knee issues, and Kupp was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL. The Rams ultimately were able to remain successful in the playoffs thanks to the emergence of CJ Anderson, but things ended abruptly in the Super Bowl when the offense was held to just 3 points in the loss to the Patriots. For some reason, fans are forgetting how the season ended and assuming this offense will be firing on all cylinders in Week 1.
Injury concerns linger ahead of Rams vs. Patriots
A lot of people will be watching the opening game between the Rams and Patriots; however, it may not be for obvious reasons. I believe most will be tuned in to see if these injuries are truly gone or have lingered into 2019. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is reportedly 100% healthy, but the Panthers organization also listed him healthy for weeks when the rest of the world knew he was battling a critical injury last year. Meanwhile, the Rams are expecting to lighten Gurley’s workload this season and while we do not know exactly how many snaps will be scaled back for the NFL’s top running back; Week 1 would probably be a pretty conservative week by all rationality. Also, WR Cooper Kupp will be limited in some form or fashion. Now I don’t want to provide false notions because the Rams are reportedly impressed with Kupp’s recovery. However, I am sure Sean McVay will be cautious with one of his prized targets.
So what does all this mean? Well, I believe we need to look at things from a rational perspective. We have several key plays on both offenses that are returning from serious injuries in their 1st game of the season. We should expect some rust, perhaps some conservative play call, and lighter workloads to ensure these key offensive components come out of Week 1 healthy. Coaches are not stupid so if you are thinking Cam is going to throw the ball 35 times or Gurley is going to get 25 carries; I would adamantly state that you are dreaming. So ultimately, I am expecting a negative game script that has more defensive upside than expected. Points will be scored it just will not be anything close to the total listed.
Supporting betting trends
I did not have to look hard to find a couple of parallel trends that coincide with my prediction this week. The Rams have hit the under in 6 of their last seven games on the road. Meanwhile, the Panthers have also hit the under in 6 of their last seven games in week 1. Perhaps, more importantly, is the fact that the under has hit in five of the last six games between the Panthers and Rams!
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Under 50