Carolina Panthers (5-8 SU, 4-8-1 ATS) vs. Washington Redskins (7-5-1 SU, 9-4 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, December 19, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CAR +4.5/WAS -4.5
Over/Under Total: 51
The Carolina Panthers come to FedEx Field to face the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. Both teams were victorious on Sunday in week 14 action. The Panthers looked pretty good at home with a 28-16 win over the San Diego Chargers. They were the first team to beat the Chargers conclusively this season. Meanwhile, the Redskins were able to get a late fourth quarter touchdown to avoid defeat to the Eagles in a 27-22 win. The Panthers are still fighting hard despite the season being a massive overall disappointment. And the Redskins are still gunning for a postseason spot, with the NFC East now out of their reach. They really need this win on MNF.
Carolina has shown some grit in the past month and change, winning 4 of their last 6 and showing a commendable level of fight, despite a season that hasn't gone according to plan for the defending conference champs. There have been major letdowns this season—injuries, inconsistent play, and overall deterioration on both sides of the ball. But since early October, only the Seahawks embarrassed them, with all their other games either being wins or razor-close losses. Still, that isn't much consolation for a team that had their sights set on Super Bowl glory this season.
On Sunday, the Panthers were able to get their defense on the right track. Five San Diego turnovers were key in the Panthers win, with three picks of Philip Rivers, with the San Diego QB also coughing up two fumbles. On Sunday, the Carolina defense meant business. They registered five sacks, with the San Diego offense tied up in knots the whole game. The schemes up-front had the Chargers' offensive line crossed up the entire game. There have been times where this defense has been showing signs of its prior form, even with Luke Kuechly out of action with a concussion. It's unclear if they will try to work him back into action this season. They have shown a decent pass-rush on occasion this season and have registered 15 interceptions. But in terms of being stout, this season has been a big backwards step.
Cam Newton wasn't that effective through the air on Sunday on 10-for-27 passing. Greg Olsen has a pretty good day, while Jonathan Stewart scored a TD on the ground. The defense put them in position to score and even with five turnovers and facing a Chargers' defense that has been decimated by injuries, they weren't all that impressive. Newton has been far off his 2015 MVP form, both on the ground and through the air. Still, other than the rout to Seattle a few weeks ago, this group has been hanging in there—with wins in four of their last six and a close road loss to the Raiders. They're not as bad as their record or predicament would suggest.
Following two straight losses, the Redskins needed their week 14 win over the Eagles in a big way. It wasn't easy. A fourth-quarter pick-six by the Eagles and a field goal gave the Philly a late lead. With less than two minutes left, Redskins' back Chris Thompson took it in from 25 yards out for the definitive score. It was a tough road win for a team that has been pretty streaky this season. After starting the season looking awful at 0-2, they went on to lose just once in their next eight games. Then another two-game slide threatened to derail their season with the big win on Sunday pumping some life back into Washington's sails.
Kirk Cousins didn't have his best game on Sunday with 234 yards through the air, one touchdown pass, and the costly pick-six. But he has been a big part of this team's success and did eclipse 4000 yards passing on Sunday. On a huge play on Sunday, he hit DeSean Jackson for a memorable 80-yard TD play. Pierre Garcon had another big day and has quietly had a big year. Rookie back Robert Kelley has given the Redskins a much-needed dimension in the run-game. With other receivers like Jamison Crowder, TE Jordan Reed, and TE Vernon Davis, there is a lot of room for different players to succeed in this offense. They may be one-dimensional, but that aerial attack is one heck of a dimension.
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The defense was big for the Redskins on Sunday. With the Eagles driving and in the red zone late, Ryan Kerrigan delivered the sack that caused Carson Wentz to fumble. Who knows what would have happened without that support on this side of the ball? But the Redskins haven't been able to rely on the "D" as of late and being able to deliver in the clutch was a good development for this team. They've given up between 20 and 31 points in 11 of their 13 games this season—not great, but fairly consistent.
Just because the Redskins need this more in the big picture doesn't mean they're a cinch to win the game or especially to cover the spread. The Panthers have shown some fight in the past handful of weeks, while the Redskins' form has slipped, despite them coming up with the big win on Sunday. I just see this as a really close game where taking the points seems like a good idea.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers plus 4.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Panthers vs. Redskins game from the comfort of your home 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!