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Carolina Panthers vs. San Francisco 49ers Point Spread - Pick

Carolina Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: CAR -5.5/SF +5.5
Over/Under Total: 48

The Carolina Panthers come to Levi's Stadium on Sunday to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday week one action. This is a critical season for the Panthers, who look to rebound from 6-10 season that followed a Super Bowl appearance and a 15-1 year in 2015. Still, six losses were by 3 or fewer points, meaning a little tweak here and a twist there could result in a whole different season. For the 49ers, any positive developments will do after a 2-14 season where they lost 13 in a row at one point. They are hoping for some better results under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, but it might not occur overnight.

The 49ers have their work cut out for them after they cleaned house with the coaching staff and front office. Kyle Shanahan did some great things with the Atlanta offense, but he probably doesn't have the tools in Frisco to orchestrate anything too dramatic overnight. He won't be working with the QB of the team's future, with Brian Hoyer looking like a "biding time" type of quarterback. But the QB play over the past few seasons has been so bad, that it probably won't be any worse under Hoyer. A completely pedestrian aerial attack was revamped, with Pierre Garcon, Marquis Goodwin, and Aldrick Robinson actually serving as an upgrade, along with Jeremy Kerley. Still, it's not a great bunch.

Carlos Hyde isn't a bad back, but he's not very durable, with the Niners adding a useful fullback in Kyle Jusczyzk and Tim Hightower, who might still have some juice in those legs. What would really help is an O-line that seems to have made a decent upgrade. Some nice pieces exist with LT Joe Staley, C Daniel Kilgore, and G Zane Beadles. Trent Brown at right tackle and Brandon Fusco at guard along with some added useful bodies could have this part of the offense in capable hands.

The San Francisco defense is the most troubling development within this recent San Fran fall from grace. They were last in total "D" in 2016. Against the run last season, they descended into slapstick status at times. New coordinator Robert Saleh looks to help with that, with the former Seattle assistant adding a bit of Pete Carroll's attacking 4-3 approach with the Niners switching after years with a 3-4. Offering some hope is a pair of first round draft picks in DE Solomon Thomas and LB Rueben Foster. The Niners' middle also added Malcolm Smith and should be good, especially if NaVorro Bowman stays healthy. DeForest Buckner and Earl Mitchell man the middle of the line, with Arik Armstead and Thomas at the ends. Vets Ahmad Brooks and Elvis Dumervil add some potential mayhem to the front seven. Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson man the corners with Eric Reid moving to strong safety and FS Jimmie Ward, or maybe Jaquisti Tartt.

Nothing really went Carolina's way last season. New defensive coordinator Steve Wilks inherits a lot of good pieces with which to work. First are two dynamite linebackers in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. LB Shaq Thompson is also coming along. They helped the Panthers be second in sacks last season. The line adds Julius Peppers to help against the run. Nose tackle Kawann Short and DT Stat Lotulelei are good against the run, as well, with Mario Addison and Charles Johnson at the ends adding a nice pass-rush. James Bradberry and Daryl Worley are at corner and should be better with more experience. Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman are at safety. Adams is getting up there at 36 and Captain Munnerlyn, who also gets a lot of playing time generally, didn't have a great 2016.

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On offense, the offseason shoulder surgery of Cam Newton in March means he missed a lot of action in camp and might be ready to hit the ground running. But everything around him on this side of the ball should be better. Rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel add some interesting dimensions to an offense that lacked them in '16. RB Jonathan Stewart needs to have a bounce-back season, while receiver Kelvin Benjamin faces a crucial season in his career trajectory. WR Devin Funchess hasn't delivered, but Greg Olsen is one of the best tight ends in the business. The llne adds a good rookie in Taylor Moton and returns intact.

If the new weapons on the Carolina offense manifest, they should have enough to get over the hump. Again, they weren't that far off even with no stars lining up right for them last season. The 49ers, meanwhile, might be on the right track, but a lack of talent on both sides leaves them handcuffed for the time being. But for the first time in several seasons, they might be on the right track. A case can be made for this being a close one, but we just see Carolina being all wrong for the Niners this week. We're taking the road favorite Panthers.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers minus 5.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Carolina vs. San Francisco game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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