Panthers vs Steelers – NFL Picks and Parlays 11/8/18
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After slogging through games like Raiders vs. Niners and Cardinals vs. Broncos, Thursday Night Football looks set to be good for another week as the Carolina Panthers head into the Steel City to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams have been winning games consistently and look like contenders to make runs in their respective conferences.
The Steelers come into this battle of teams playing at a high level as a 3.5-point favorite at MyBookie, as one of these teams finally has to lose again.
The Panthers are ninth in the NFL in yards per play, averaging six yards per offensive snap this season. A huge reason for that success has been their running game.
Carolina is tied atop the NFL in yards per carry, racking up 5.2 yards per attempt on the ground. With the small but quick Christian McCaffrey and the bruising Cam Newton, the Panthers have something of a thunder and lightning style ground game, even if it is extremely unconventional.
Through the air, the Panthers are 18th in the league in yards per pass attempt at a nice 6.9 yards per attempt. Cam Newton has 15 touchdown passes on the season compared to just four interceptions. Last year, he had 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for the entire season. Cam has frustrated opposing defenses this season more than he used to upset cranky old sportswriters when he would dab after picking up a first down.
Ron Rivera’s squad is tied for 13th in yards allowed per play, giving up 5.6 yards per play to their opponents. They are also tied for 15th in yards allowed per rush attempt, conceding 4.3 yards per rush and tied for ninth in the league against the pass, giving up an average of 6.7 yards per pass attempt. But they are much better at home than they are on the road.
The Panthers are 1-2 straight up on the road this season and 1-2 against the spread as well. Their only win away from home saw them come back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the defending champion Eagles. That is to say that the Panthers have been behind their opponents for 11 of the 12 quarters they’ve played on the road this season, which is not a recipe for success even if they managed to grab that win in Philly.
That kind of Jekyll and Hyde act between home and the road may come back to haunt the Panthers in the second half of their season, as five of their last eight games are on the road. And if they continue to struggle on the road, they could end up with a road game in the playoffs, creating a vicious cycle of road losses.
Steelers Week 10 Outlook
The Steelers are tied for seventh in yards per play this season, putting up 6.1 yards per play on offense. They are ied for 14th in yards per rush attempt, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. They averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2017 with Le’Veon Bell in the backfield.
James Conner is averaging 4.7 yards per carry this season. Bell averaged 4.0 yards per carry in 2017. That isn’t to say that Conner is better than Bell or whatever the team wants you to believe, but rather that defenses might not be giving Conner the respect that they gave Bell in trying to stop the run.
Pittsburgh is tied for ninth in yards per pass attempt, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. The combination of Juju Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown have over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns between them, so Panthers DBs had better be on point on Thursday night.
Mike Tomlin’s team is tied for seventh in yards against per play, allowing just 5.3 yards per play to opponents on the season. Their run defense is tied for ninth in the league, giving up 4.1 yards per carry.
And the Pittsburgh pass defense is tied for third in the league, giving opponents just 6.4 yards per pass attempt on average. That mark ties them with the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears, two teams more known for their play on the defensive side of the ball.
Pittsburgh has won five out of their last six games, with the lone loss coming against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. They’ve since won a rematch of that game in Baltimore, and are finally starting to look like the contender that many thought they would be heading into the season, even without Bell.
Panthers vs. Steelers Trends
The Panthers enter this game at 6-2 straight up and 5-3 against the spread on the season. And Ron Rivera’s team is red hot in November, winning each of their last five games against the spread during that month. They are also 5-1 against the spread in their last six games against teams with a winning record. But Thursday nights have been the Kryptonite to Cam Newton’s Superman, as the Panthers are just 1-4 against the spread in their last five Thursday games.
Pittsburgh comes into this Thursday night showdown at 5-2 straight up and 5-3 against the spread. The Steelers have won each of their last four games against the spread after a slow start to the season, and they come into this game with plenty of recent experience taking care of business on Thursdays. Ben Roethlisberger and company are 3-0-1 against the spread in their last four games on Thursday, giving them a clear edge in that department over the Panthers.
The Steelers come into this game riding a wave of momentum, and have been the better team in night games as of late. Combine that with all of the problems that the Panthers have had away from home, and you should be able to expect the Steelers to continue their winning ways.