Washington Redskins (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 1PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WAS +7.5/CAR -7.5
Over/Under Total: 45
The Washington Redskins come to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday to face the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Each team is coming off a fruitful Sunday, with the Redskins scoring a huge 47-14 win over the New Orleans Saints. They produced such a commanding offensive performance that the Saints fired their defensive coordinator the next day. The win brings them to 4-5, as they look to score the big win this week in Charlotte. Carolina also won on Sunday with a 27-10 road win over the Tennessee Titans. The win lifted their record to 9-0. For a team that can afford to slip up, the Panthers have been bringing it every week thus far in 2015.
The Redskins deserve some credit for resurrecting a season that looked completely sideways at one point. Theyve won 2 out of 3 games and are coming off a dominant shellacking of the Saints, giving up only 14 points to a home New Orleans offense, while piling on 47 points. Kirk Cousins is getting better and better as he develops a comfort level as the teams undisputed starter. On Sunday, he threw for 324 yards on 20-for-25 passing, with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Alfred Morris showed signs of life with 104 yards on the ground. And if he can continue to produce consistently, one can envision this Redskins offense taking flight. Also big on Sunday was RB Matt Jones, who ran for 56 yards on the ground, while compiling 131 yards through the air, including a big 78-yard touchdown. What could really start to pay off is the return of DeSean Jackson, who got his feet wet on Sunday. If he can round into form, it gives this offense yet another dimension.
Sunday served as the perfect microcosm for the Redskins when things go right. Granted, beating the Saints and that defense is much less-demanding than beating the Panthers on the road. But you saw their ideal scenario come to light, with Cousins efficiently commandeering this offense, while connecting with a talented receiver crew. They can run the ball with Morris and Jones, who is also a big contributor aerially. And the offensive line can do a bang-up job in keeping Cousins out of trouble, as hes absorbed only 9 sacks this season. We saw a defense playing well on Sunday, as well, preventing the run and the pass from establishing a foothold, while making plays
On defense, the Redskins have been up-and-down this season. They are coming off a good showing against Brees and Company in their big win against the Saints. They are 16th in the NFL in giving up an average of 23.2 points per game. One area of concern is a front that isnt always terribly robust against the opposing ground game, in addition to not applying a consistent-enough pass rush. Well see how they hold up in the trenches against the Panthers, who excel in that area. And as they showed on Sunday with Dashon Goldson running back a pick for a TD, they can come up with the big play from time to time.
The Panthers have a formula for success that will manifest most weeks. They play defense, run the ball, and dominate in the trenches. That recipe is the kind that can deliver week in and week out. And from a mental standpoint, Carolina is able to stay at a high level. While its natural for bettors to look at an undefeated team in a non-competitive division and try to play time the letdown, it can be a costly game to play, as Carolina keeps winning and covering spreads.
When the Panthers play well, we see a lot of the things we saw on the road against Tennessee on Sunday. Newton was excellent on 21-for-26 passing, while adding a rushing TD. Greg Olsen chipped in, as he reminds us how hes one of the more productive tight ends in the league. They got nice production from other parts of the passing game, as Ed Dickson even chimed in with a TD score. Ted Ginn, Jr. has been good this season and if second-round rookie Devin Funchess can come around, it would really help. One area where they didnt thrive on Sunday was in pass-protection, with Newton getting sacked five times.
The Carolina offense has improved this year in hitting the scoreboard with more regularity. When we think of Carolina, we think of a low-scoring team who relies on defense. And while the defense is still a big part of the equation, the offense shares in the heavy lifting more, as they are now a top-five scoring unit. In their last 7 games, their lowest point total was 27. They are the second-leading rushing team in the league and are a better all-around team this season, even after winning the division twice in a row coming into this season.
On defense, the Panthers can get it done, though they will occasionally allow chunks of yardage beyond what weve seen from them in recent years. At the same time, they set the standard pretty high and the bottom-line is that they still allow an average of under 20 points per game. They are deadly in the trenches and a punishing unit to play against, as Kirk Cousins may very well find out on Sunday. The D can do a little bit of everything and they tend to have their way at the end of games.
Again, we dont want to get caught in the trap of attempting to time an off-game for the Panthers. But even if the Panthers play well, the Redskins could serve to be a tough opponent. Some momentum has been created. They are within striking distance of first place in the NFC East at 4-5, so this game carries some real meaning for a team that is suddenly in the mix. I look for Washington to give the Panthers a run for their money.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Washington Redskins plus 7.5 points.
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