Panthers vs. Colts Total Pick 12/22/19
Carolina Panthers (5-9 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (6-8 SU, 6-5-2 ATS)
NFL Football Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday December 22nd, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where:Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, I.N
Point Spread:CAR +7/IND - 7 (BetAnySports)
Over/Under Total: 46
The Indianapolis Colts were completely embarrassed on Monday Night Football last week in a 34-7 blowout loss that was highlighted by Saints QB Drew Brees record-setting night. Perhaps lost in the record-setting performance was the fact that the Colts lost their 4th straight game, which not only ended any hopes at a playoff appearance but continued to raise concerns around the future of the franchise with concerns specifically aimed at QB Jacoby Brissett. As questions mount around the Colts plans heading into the offseason, Indianapolis will get a peachy match-up this week when they face the Carolina Panthers inside Lucas Oil Stadium as 7 point favorites.
Despite the Colts’ late-season struggles, the Panthers have had bigger issues. The Falcons dropped their 6th straight game last week to the Seattle Seahawks 30-24 as QB Kyle Allen struggled again with three interceptions. The Panthers currently have a complete mess of problems. Long-time head coach Ron Rivera was let go earlier this month after four straight losses. Carolina’s franchise QB Cam Newton has been plagued with injuries, and his future in Carolina is uncertain. Outside of RB Christian McCaffrey, the team simply has not shown any bright spots on either side of the football. With more questions than answers building, Carolina is hoping that another change at quarterback will spark the offense ahead of this Sunday’s road trip to Indianapolis.
QB Will Grier to start for Carolina at Indianapolis
I mentioned earlier that Kyle Allen struggled again in the loss to Seattle last week with three interceptions. Allen has now thrown ten picks in the previous five games, and many of those turnovers have been in critical situations. As a result, interim coach Perry Fewell has decided to start QB Will Grier this Sunday in Indianapolis. In some ways, this may be to gauge where the Panthers’ quarterback situation before the offseason. However, the 3rd round rookie out of West Virginia showed some flashes of potential in the preseason and will get an opportunity to ignite a rather inefficient offense that has revolved around the elusiveness of Christian McCaffrey.
Obviously, it isn’t very easy to pinpoint expectations for the Panthers on Sunday. Though Grier had moments in the preseason, he finishes just 34 of 61 passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions. From a match-up standpoint, the Colts appear to have a strong upper hand. The Colts run defense has been solid all season, which should limit McCaffrey’s success between the tackles. McCaffrey is still a factor in the passing game, but this Colts defense is basically a pass funneling unit which will require Grier to deliver in his debut start.
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Colts looking for answers on offense
As mentioned earlier, the Colts offense has struggled pretty significantly in recent weeks. QB Jacoby Brissett has completed just 56% passing with three touchdowns and two picks in his three starts in the month of December. Collectively, the offense has dropped point totals of 17, 17, 35, in three in their four straight losses with the only outlier coming in a shootout against the spotty Buccaneers defense. With confidence dwindling with Brissett and T.Y Hilton still not completely healthy (52% snap rate against New Orleans), the key to this victory will be pounding the football with running back Marlon Mack against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses that has allowed 140 yards per game on the ground.
Head Coach Frank Reich remains one of the more run-first oriented coaches in the league despite game script or situational factors. Since the Panthers lost the run-stop threat of DT Dontair Poe to IR, the defense has been butchered for 547 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in three games while giving up 6.3 yards per touch. If you consider the struggles of the passing attack, this is the perfect situation for the Colts to stick to their trusted running game and ride Marlon Mack along with the rest of the Colts backfield to a victory. This game does not set up for a high scoring script, but I expect the Colts to run the ball often. With a backup quarterback on the other side of the football and a struggling offense, I believe game script, pace, and opportunity will keep scoring limited in this match-up.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take the under 46