TNF - Eagles at Panthers
October 12, 2017
By Tony Mejia
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Philadelphia at Carolina (-3.5, 45.5), 8:25 pm ET, CBS
One of these teams is going to wake up on Friday morning filled with that Tony Montana "the world is yours" feeling, becoming the first NFC team with five wins. For the second straight week, we've got an attractive matchup, which will hopefully result in another decent game as the level of play picks up.
The controversy he created for himself didn't end up hampering Cam Newton, who put together his best game of the season in a 27-24 upset win in Detroit. He's now thrown for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of Carolina's road wins this month, beating the Patriots and Lions. His completion percentage has improved each time out and he's been resilient in not letting a three-interception game against the Saints linger. He's going to be playing in Charlotte for the first time since that 34-13 loss and will also be out there for the first time since apologizing for chauvinistic comments towards one of the team's beat writers, so it will be interesting to see if he'll receive any backlash.
Newton's throwing shoulder feels the healthiest it has been since returning from offseason shoulder surgery. After a dreadful debut in ugly, defense-fueled wins over the 49ers and Bills, Newton appeared headed in the wrong direction against New Orleans, getting his team beat. His success in New England came out of nowhere and was another indidictment of the Pats' lack of defense. He closed out the Lions with a huge third-down conversion to Kelvin Benjamin to keep Matthew Stafford from getting the ball back as Detroit attempted to rally from a 27-10 fourth-quarters deficit. Head coach Ron Rivera told NFL Network that the success is related to him finally finding a groove.
"His shoulder is finally feeling like it doesn't get tired fast," Rivera said. "Part of it was he just had surgery. There was nothing minor about what he went through. Missed training camp, not getting a chance to develop some of the timing that you need. So now he's just kind of feeling good about himself."
Philadelphia's pass defense, like New England's (last) and Detroit's (27th), ranks among the NFL's worst, coming in 29th in yards allowed through the air (283). Only the Patriots and Saints surrender more yards per completion than the 8.6 the Eagles allow, so Newton should be able to sustain his rhythm if his arm responds well despite the short week. That's going to be the big if, because the Eagles come in even with the Packers as the NFC's second-highest scoring team (27.4) behind the Rams and figure to test a Carolina defense that has struggled since those dominant first two wins against two of the least prolific offensive teams in football, San Francisco and Buffalo.
The Panthers have been outscored 38-10 in the fourth quarter over their last three games, while the Eagles haven't surrendered a first-quarter touchdown yet, giving up just three points in the opening 15 minutes all season, so if either of those trends continue, Philadelphia has a chance to pull off an upset.
Carson Wentz has soundly beaten any notion of a sophomore jinx, leading all NFL quarterbacks with a 137.8 rating on third down, throwing six touchdowns while racking up 30 first downs. He threw three TD passes in the first quarter in Sunday's 34-7 win over Arizona, a first in franchise history. He also became the 10th QB in league history to throw for over 5,000 yards in his first 21 games and enjoyed the first four-touchdown game of his career, all to different receivers. The Eagles didn't throw much in the fourth quarter due to their healthy cushion or his numbers would've been gaudier. It will be interesting to see how he responds on the road coming off the most prolific passing day of his young career.
The Panthers rank fifth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (194) despite facing Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford in consecutive weeks. While that number pops out, they have come up with only one interception this season and have seen 69.8 percent of passes completed against them, the fourth-highest clip allowed. Wentz should have opportunities to continue his strong play on what is expected to be a clear conditions in Charlotte.
Another major factor in Philadelphia's success since suffering its only loss in Kansas City is the incorporation of LeGarrette Blount in the run game. Despite being healthy, Doug Pederson only got Blount a single carry against the Chiefs, and that was nullified by a penalty. He caught one pass for 0 yards and was on the field for only six snaps. With Darren Sproles lost for the season, Blount has received 42 carries over the last three contests, racking up 277 yards on 6.6 yards per carry. Although he's only found the end zone once after scoring 18 rushing touchdowns for New England last season, he'll have a chance to add to that total if he stays healthy given how well the offense is performing. Philadelphia joins Kansas City as the only teams in the league to have scored 20 or more points in every game this season.
The Bucs rank last in the NFL in third-down defense, allowing a 50 percent conversion rate that has to have Brady salivating. He's got the offense averaging 32 points over the last three games since the team's Thursday night loss to Kansas City to open the season, and has to be looking forward to going up against a team that has registered only a single sack through the first four games. This will be Brady's first time playing in Tampa Bay in his pro career, as two of the previous meetings came in Foxboro and the '09 game was played in London.
Season win total: 8.5 (Over -120, Under +100)
Odds to win NFC East:4/5 to 4/9
Odds to win NFC: 10/1 to 8/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 20/1 to 16/1
Season win total: 9 (Over -120, Under +100)
Odds to win NFC South: 7/2 to 2/1
Odds to win NFC: 15/1 to 7/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 30/1 to 14/1
Both of these teams have seen the odds on them achieving success this season improve dramatically this month. Although the Falcons (4/5) are still favored to win the NFC South. the Eagles have replaced the Cowboys as the current NFC East favorite.
Only Green Bay (9/4), Atlanta (4/1) and Seattle (5/1) have better odds than these teams to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
As far as this matchup is concerned, the Eagles were installed as a 3-point favorite when the Westgate's early numbers were announced, opening the week there but quickly moving to 3.5. The total opened at 45, climbed to 46 and is most widely available at 45.5.
Carolina is -170/-180 on the money line, while Philadelphia will get you +160.
Scott Cooley of Bookmaker.eu dropped knowledge on what his shop is seeing as of Wednesday afternoon.
"We currently have 62 percent of the tickets on Philly, but of the sharp money we’ve taken, which isn’t an overwhelming amount, has been on Carolina," Cooley said. This feels like a good number, and it will probably dip back down to the opener of -3 at some point before kickoff. Should be a great game for all to see where these two teams really belong in the ratings."
Lane Johnson, Philly's standout right tackle, suffered a head injury against Arizona and is sidelined with a concussion. He didn't make the trip and will be replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a second-year player who started six games as a rookie and fared very well upon taking over last week, playing 34 snaps without allowing so much as a hurry. Philadelphia went 2-4 in his starts last season. Carolina had six sacks last week in Detroit.
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The Eagles might get standout DT Fletcher Cox, one of the NFL's top defensive players, back from a two-game absence due to a calf injury, but the intention is to decide on his status an hour before game-time. RB Wendell Smallwood (knee) and defensive linemen Beau Allen (foot), Destiny Vaeao (wrist) and Chris Long (foot) are all listed as questionable. Top corner Ronald Darby (ankle) remains sidelined, but might return next week.
The Panthers also have issues up front along the offensive line and in the Eagles. Five-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil will miss another game with a neck injury, while younger brother Matt left the Lions win for a stretch but will play. RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and WR Devin Funchess (knee) will also be out there for Carolina. Tight end Greg Olsen remains sidelined after foot surgery and isn't likely to return to game action until late November. Safeties Kurt Coleman and Demetrious Cox are out, but banged up corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley should play.
RECENT MEETINGS (Philadelphia 5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS last eight; OVER 5-3)
10/25/15 Carolina 27-16 vs. Philadelphia (CAR -3, 45)
11/10/14 Philadelphia 45-21 vs. Carolina (PHI -7, 48.5)
11/26/12 Carolina 30-22 at Philadelphia (CAR -3, 42)
9/13/09 Philadelphia 38-10 vs. Philadelphia (PHI -2.5, 43.5)
12/4/06 Philadelphia 27-24 vs. Carolina (CAR -3, 37.5)
10/17/04 Philadelphia 30-8 vs. Carolina (PHI -10, 42)
1/18/04 Carolina 14-3 at Philadelphia (PHI -4, 36.5)
11/30/03 Philadelphia 25-16 at Carolina (CAR -1.5, 37)
Of the props available below at BetOnline.ag, I'd ride the OVER on field goals and do think we'll see a touchdown of 43 yards or more.
Team to reach 10 points first: (Panthers -145, Eagles +125)
Team to reach 20 points first: (Panthers -160, Eagles +140)
Team to score first: (Panthers -130, Eagles +110)
Team to score last: (Panthers -110, Eagles -110)
First score: (Touchdown -160, FG/Safety +140)
Total FGs made by both teams: (3.5, Over +120, Under -140)
Longest FG made: (46, Over -120/Under +100)
Total sacks by both teams combined: (5 Over -135, Under +115)
Will there be a score in final 2 minutes of 1st half: (Yes -260, No +220)
Will there be a defensive or special teams TD?: (Yes +220, No -260)
Will there be a TD of 43 yards or more?: (Yes -125, No +105)
Will there be a 1-yard TD?: (Yes -125, No +105)
Will there be overtime: (Yes +1000, No -1500)
Will there be 3 straight scores by either team: (Yes -200, No +170)
PANTHERS AS A HOME FAVORITE
The Panthers are 1-1 at home this season but haven't covered, pushing against Buffalo in a game they almost lost in the final seconds and getting rolled by the Saints. They were 4-3 (3-3-1 ATS) as the home chalk last season.
Carolina played two Thursday night games, two Monday night games and a Saturday contest last season and went 2-3 but have played solely on Sunday afternoons thus far in '17.
EAGLES AS A ROAD UNDERDOG
Philadelphia has won just two of its last 10 road games, but snapped a run of seven straight losses in the season opener against Washington, prevailing as a 1-point favorite. The Eagles have been a dog in Kansas City and L.A., losing to the Chiefs and beating the Chargers. They went 1-5 as a road 'dog last year, but are 6-2 against the number in their last eight.
Wentz won his only Thursday night game last season, beating the Giants at home in Week 16 a few days after Philadelphia was officially eliminated. That win started a run that has seen the Eagles win six of their last seven straight up.
NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED
The Westgate opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 7 currently has the Panthers as a 4.5-point road favorite against Chicago. The Eagles will be back on a national stage, hosting Washington for Monday night football to wrap up their season series early as they seek a sweep. Philadelphia is listed as a 6.5-point favorite.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA
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