Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date and Time: Sunday, September 21, 8:30pm EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT +3/CAR -3
Over/Under Total: 42
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Sunday night, the Steelers will roll into Charlotte to take on the 2-0 Carolina Panthers. The Steelers come into this game at 1-1 overall and the Panthers are 2-0 and leading the NFC South division so far this season. The line opens with your typical home team (Carolina) favored by three points, and the total points are set at 42. The Steelers and their fanbase expect to compete for championships every year, but from the looks of this team through two games, they got some serious work to do. Carolina on the other hand came in with high expectations, and so far, they have lived up to them. Of course, this season just started and anything can happen. Remembe when the Houston Texans started 2-0 last year? Yea, how did that end up? Not saying Carolina will pull a Houston by any means, but I am just saying that we cannot judge a team on just two early wins.
So far, the Carolina Panthers are the class of the NFC South. I said all along that the Southern division was a three way race with Carolina, Atlanta, and New Orleans. So far, that is how it is looking. Carolina sits at 2-0 and Atlanta 1-1. New Orleans is 0-2, but I assume they will go on a streak and get themselves back in contention soon. The story of the Panthers so far this season has been there defense. The rushing defense has been straight nasty, only allowing 86 yards a game, and the pass defense has stood strong too, ranking in the NFL’s top 15 while holding opposing teams to just a little over 200 yards a game. On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers have been pretty average. They are ranked 15th in passing yards, while sitting at 25th in rushing. I am not looking too much into these numbers for the Panthers since they did have to play their first game without starting quarterback, Cam Newton. Not only that, but Newton still is not 100% and it will take some time for him to get on the same page with his new young receivers. Cam’s number one target so far this season has been tight end, Greg Olsen, who has caught 14 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. On the rookie front, Kelvin Benjamin, last year’s BCS Title game hero for the Florida State Seminoles, has caught 8 balls for 138 yards and a score. The key to this game for Carolina is to keep the home crowd behind them. Cam and company need a fast start offensively to get the Steelers to play from behind. Pittsburgh, when playing from behind is always good for a boneheaded turnover or something. If Carolina can jump out early, I see this being a good game for them and a 3-0 record. As much as it pains me to say, as an Atlanta Falcons fan, the Carolina Panthers are the truth this season. Watch.
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Pittsburgh comes into this game at 1-1, but are very very close to being 0-2. They hung on by the skin of their teeth in week one against the Cleveland Browns, and then this past week were pretty much beatdown by their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh has actually thrown the ball well this season. Ben Roethlisberger ranks 5th in the NFL in passing yards at 582 yards, but he has only managed one touchdown pass. The Steelers must get better at scoring to have a chance to compete not only in this game, but their division. The pass game has moved the ball, but the Steelers run game has let them down when inside the redzone. They rank 19th in rushing and this needs to improve, especially when they play teams with stellar defenses like Carolina, Cincinnati, and and Houston. The key to the Steelers having any shot to win this game in Charlotte will be their defense. I do not see Pittsburgh scoring a whole lot against the Panthers, so they need to keep this game low scoring. If they can keep it to a 17-14 or 20-14 type game, they may have a prayer. Another area that the Steelers will have to improve on is their rush defense. They are giving up 170 yards a game on the ground and iI know Carolina isn’t the most feared running team, but if Pittsburgh cannot stop them, Carolina could blow the brakes off this game.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is your typical home team favored by three points. In my opinion, the Steelers still get a lot of love because they are the Pittsburgh Steelers. To me, this Steelers team is not good…at all. I can see them going 6-10 or 7-9 this year, and if you ask me there is NO WAY they make the playoffs, but people still believe in them. Listen, I am not going to give you trends, stats, numbers, etc for this one. The Carolina Panthers are going to dominate this game from beginning to end. It is a mistake for NBC to have even picked this game as the prime time match-up. Carolina wins this game BIG. Look for a 24-10 win by the Panthers at home. PICK THE CAROLINA PANTHERS -3 AT HOME!!!! ALSO TAKE UNDER THE POSTED TOTAL POINTS OF 42