Carolina Panthers (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Week 9 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CAR -3/LA +3
Over/Under Total: 45
The Carolina Panthers come into the LA Coliseum on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Rams in a key NFC battle. The Rams are coming off a bye week that followed three straight losses, as they try to get their season back on the right track. After losing their opener, they went on a promising 3-game win streak, before embarking on this latest skid, which has their season a bit sideways at this point. On the 23rd in their last game, they dropped a 17-10 home result to the Giants. Carolina finally got a positive development on Sunday with a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals. They are 2-5 and now get to the hard work of trying to get the season righted.
The Rams have a lot of problems. Consistency is one of them, as we've seen a wide range of play from this team through 7 games. There were times they looked really good during their three game win streak, as they were beating teams like Seattle and Arizona. But in the past month, we've seen more bad than good. Injuries have taken a toll, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Case Keenum is struggling behind center, with skill players not really delivering and a line that has not lived up to the money that has been spent.
Keenum might be a dreary choice as a long-term quarterback solution for the Rams, but to lay the blame at his feet would be missing the point. Not that he's been great, but there aren't a lot of quarterbacks who would be thriving behind a line like what the Rams have and with the depleted cast of playmakers on the Rams offense. Keenum has 8 TD throws with 10 picks. The optimism on Todd Gurley's second season is quickly fading, as the second-year back is languishing at 3 yards a run. And while guys like Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, and others are good weapons, the bottom-line production hasn't been there. At 17.1 points per game, they are the league's 29th-highest scoring offense.
If their defense were a shutdown unit, the Rams could perhaps make it work better on offense, but that's not the case. Their line is great and they pressure quarterbacks. Aaron Donald is a monster on the inside, but the pass-rush has been fairly inconsistent this season and they are a mediocre 15th against the run this season. Despite opposing defenses getting ten picks off the LA Rams, the defense has gotten just four picks in seven games. It just hasn't been a very impactful group.
On one hand, a bye week for LA presents an opportunity to right the ship some, but to have an extra week to ponder how their season is in the dumps might not provide a good feeling. They're not even at the halfway point and already they've been through the ringer—a bizarre shutout loss to the Niners, followed by three straight wins where they were feeling good about themselves, and straight into a three game slide. Where do they turn from here?
The Panthers have seen their season go into the toilet early, which had to be disconcerting for the defending conference champions. But after a big win at home, maybe they can get something cooking. The NFC South is a pretty topsy-turvy division. Also, the Panthers have gone on long win streaks in previous seasons. It's just been a tough year across the board for the Panthers. On Sunday, they saw some things go their way. Jonathan Stewart ran for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kelvin Benjamin made a few big catches. And the defense only started giving up points after the game was already in hand.
Cam Newton has had a difficult season, seemingly battered in every game and taking a lot of shots. That has probably affected his overall play. The line hasn't given him as much protection and the run-game has been thrown off-kilter by injuries and inconsistent performances. They have a lot of weapons with Greg Olsen, Benjamin, and a slew of quality role receivers. They've scored 30 or more points in three of their last four games, of which they've only won one.
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The Carolina defense played better on Sunday. Star Lotulelei had three sacks, with the Panthers totaling eight on the day. But Carson Palmer still had 363 yards and that's been the sticking point with the Panthers, whose secondary has disintegrated massively from last season. To attribute it to the departure of Josh Norman only tells part of the story. Injuries, inconsistent play, and unfulfilled promise from new faces have made them very dicey indeed. They're not getting many turnovers and they just haven't been very clutch. Other defenses have had challenges to overcome with adversity threatening their position, but the Panthers have not been very resilient to the trouble that has come their way. That's why Sunday was such a big deal, as the Panthers started to look like their old self.
All games are important to all teams for different reasons. But both of these teams are in need of a win in a big way. After the bye, look for the Rams to be shot out of a cannon in what is a really pivotal home game. And if the Panthers want to make a move this season, now is the time to do it. Another loss would leave them with no margin for error with half a season remaining. I see more of a nip-and-tuck encounter, with points hard to come by at times. I'm going under.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting under 45 points in the Panthers vs. Rams game. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Carolina vs. Los Angeles game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!