Panthers-Steelers Betting Pick & Preview: Which Team has an Edge?
Week 9 Recap: For the eighth time this season, I finished with a profitable week with my picks. I finished Week 9 with a 4-1 record, capped by the Titans’ (+5.5) upset win over the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. Only once have I lost this season, which came in Week 7 when I finished 2-3. My season record stands at 31-13-1 against the spread in the NFL this season and I am 4-2-1 on Thursday nights. That said, I passed on the last two Thursday night games because I didn’t like the matchups. Tonight, the Panthers travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers in a meeting of hot teams. Let’s dive in.
- Spread: Steelers -3.5
- O/U: 51
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Steelers opened as 4-point favorites but the line dropped to 3.5 and you can find the number as low as 3 at some sportsbooks. As for the total, it hit the board at 50 but was bet up to 51.
While the Panthers are receiving most of the betting tickets (51 percent), the Steelers are attracting most of the money (55 percent). That said, both the betting tickets (73 percent) and money (70 percent) are on the over.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera ruled out left tackle Matt Kalil, who remains on injured reserve with a knee injury. After not practicing on Tuesday, receiver Torrey Smith (knee) was also ruled out for tonight’s game. Defensive end Mario Addison (shoulder), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (chest) and safety Eric Reid (shoulder) are all questionable. Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil will also be a game-time decision because of an ankle injury.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, did not list Ben Roethlisberger (finger) on its Week 10 injury report. The Steelers also removed James Washington (knee) and Ryan Switzer (ankle) from this week’s injury report.
The Kalil injury makes me apprehensive about backing the Panthers. We don’t talk enough about the center position and how it impacts games. While experienced signal-callers like Cam Newton can set their own protections, centers see the entire defensive front. They get the entire offensive line organized, they’re often the smartest players on the field and don’t underestimate the importance of the snap exchange between them and the quarterback (just ask the Jets’ Sam Darnold).
That said, Tyler Larsen started 10 games at center last year for the Panthers. He isn’t Kalil, but at least he’s an experienced player that has worked with Newton in the immediate past. It’s not an ideal situation but I still like the matchup for Carolina.
Thanks to Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson, the Panthers have the speed at linebacker to combat the Steelers’ quick passing attack. Carolina has held its last two opponents to a season-low in yards and ranks eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, which is crucial given how great James Conner has been for Pittsburgh.
Offensively, the Panthers are firing on all cylinders under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. For my money, this is the best Newton has played since his MVP season (he has 15 touchdowns to only four interceptions and has also racked up 1,893 yards passing with a rating of 100.8) and Christian McCaffrey continues to thrive in his second season. Pittsburgh can get after the quarterback, but it lacks speed at linebacker, which is problematic tonight.
The Steelers are even hotter than the Panthers coming into tonight but I love the value I’m getting with an excellent Carolina team catching 3.5 points. Although I do like the matchup for the Panthers, this is less about fading the Steelers and more about what I'm getting with the line.
Pick: Panthers +3.5
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Week 9: 4-1
- Overall: 31-13-1
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.