New England Patriots (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date and Time: Monday Night Football, November 18, 2013, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: ESPN/DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE +1/Car. -1
Over/Under Total: 46
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The hottest team in the National Football League gets to face one of its
most beloved in a primetime game the folks at ESPN have been waiting through
several mediocre rating weeks to host, when Tom Brady and the New
England Patriots travel to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte
to face red-hot Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.
Carolina has won five straight, and six of their last seven, to march right to the front of the pack in the NFC playoff race. The Panthers made a major statement on the road at San Francisco last week, stealing away with a, 10-9, victory over the 49ers by having the best defense on the field. Carolinas defense is legit, having held the 49ers to 46 yards passing by forcing six sacks and two takeaways in a showcase performance against the 49ers too a team that knows a little about defense.
Brady and the Patriots will be coming off of a bye week, and a two-game win streak going into the bye that was highlighted by 55 points last game out over Pittsburgh (won 55-31). At 7-2 many are calling this Bradys finest year, with the least amount of talent around him, but I dont think the Patriots nearly as good as everyone thinks they are and their 7-2 record indicates. Monday, under the lights, will be another chance for Brady to add to his legacy, or prove that the Panthers and their defense are for real.
Who wants to watch some football? For the first time in weeks, I can honestly say Ill watch Monday Nights game for the game itself, and not just because Im a degenerate.
Speaking of degenerate, those of you like me will note that the point spread for this matchup has already had its fair share of line movement this week, with both sides taking action depending on perspective. With the public fairly heavy on the Patriots (arent they always), the opening point spread of Carolina minus -1.5 has actually gone up to -2.5 at many sportsbooks, which usually signals sharp money on the opposite side.
The over/under total opened at 45.5 or 46 depending on where you wager, and if it climbs up another point it would classify as the Panthers highest total theyve been forced to cover this season (4-5 o/u).
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Ive already discussed the Panthers defense, which is currently ranked No. 2 in total yards (283 ypg), run defense (82 ypg) and points allowed per game (12.8). With a revolving cast of characters at receiver and at running back, Brady has managed to keep the Patriots offense in the top-10 in a few categories, but theres no hiding the fact that he and coordinator Josh McDaniels have had an extra week to scheme for this game.
The total may be considered a little low for some at 46, but since the Panthers are a serious run-first offense, there could be a lot of running clock and less incomplete passes on MNF. Carolina averages 128 yards rushing a contest (10th in NFL), and its no secret that Newton plays better out of play-action when the three-headed monster of DeAngelo Williams-James Stewart-Mike Tolbert is running downhill. New England and their 30th-ranked run defense (128.2 ypg) will be supremely focused on stopping the run, so the opportunities for Newton to go over the top for a big play will be plenty.
But before everyone gets all sloppy over the Panthers, let it be known that the Patriots are 5-0 ATS in their last five Monday Night games. However, if there is a chink in the Pats armor its on the road, where they are just 1-5 ATS in their last six away from Foxborough.
Carolina is a lifetime 4-1 ATS against New England, but none of them have come as the favorite laying points. The Panthers are 3-1 SU and ATS at home in Bank of America Stadium this season, with their only loss against the Seahawks.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England wont be able to stop the Panthers run game, which will create some great play action opportunities for Cam Newton and force Brady to throw it to win it. Id lean to a Carolina cover at home, but my money is on the over of 45.5 or 46. The Panthers strong defense will limit Brady, but this game should go over late in the fourth or dare I say overtime. Take the over of 46.