Monday, Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Pointspread: Carolina -1
Total Line: 46.5
New England headed into last week’s bye by running all over Pittsburgh 55-31 as a 5.5-point home favorite to improve to 7-2 straight-up and 5-4 against the spread. The total went way OVER the 42.5-point closing line and it has gone OVER in four of its last four games. It has struggled to cover on the road this season with a 1-3 record ATS.
The Patriots’ passing game show flashes of its old self against the Steelers with Tom Brady throwing for 432 yards and four touchdowns, but it will need to still rely heavily on a running game that has been the primary strength in the first nine games. Behind the legs of Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, New England is averaging 129.1 yards a game, which is ranked eighth in the NFL. The defense remains solid against the pass, but it has had trouble stopping the run this season; allowing an average of 128.2 yards a game.
It looked like business as usual in Carolina with a 1-3 start, but this team has been able to transform itself over the past month or so with winning streak that reached five games with last Sunday’s 10-9 statement victory over San Francisco as a six-point road underdog. The Panthers are now 6-3 both SU and ATS and just one game in back of New Orleans in the NFC South. The total stayed UNDER against the 49ers after going OVER in three of their previous four games.
The vastly improved play of quarterback Cam Newton has definitely helped the cause, but a punishing ground game and a shutdown defense has been the driving force behind this impressive run. The Panthers are averaging 127.8 rushing yards a game and their defense is ranked second in the NFL in total yards allowed (283.3) and points allowed (12.8). This unit has given-up a combined 57 points in its last five games.
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This will undoubtedly be Carolina’s toughest test on defense, but it should be able to run the ball against New England to control the tempo and clock in this game. The real edge for the Panthers is playing at home which proves to be the difference in a tight victory that extends their winning streak to six games.
Carolina 23 New England 20
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