Market WatchIf you've ever wondered how much public perception factors into an NFL point spread, look no further than this Week 13 game. In the LVH look-ahead line, Carolina were -11 point favorites. Then the Bucs upset the Lions and the line reopened at -9.5 on Monday. Since then, we've seen even more support for Tampa Bay. The current line sits at -7 at most shops, but some smart books are still keeping it at -7.5.
I realize that Tampa Bay have won three straight and haven't thrown in the towel yet, but in reality this line should be closer to double digits. I believe the books had it right the first time, so I'm more than happy at taking this value.
Bottom LineMike Glennon has won offensive rookie of the month honors and Bobby Rainey has been a nice surprise, but this will be a monumental test. Even without Charles Johnson, this defense boasts the likes of Hardy, Kuechly, and Lotulelei. Amazingly, the Panthers have surged near the top of the rankings in every meaningful defensive category. That includes run/pass defense, adjusted sack rate, drive efficiency, third down/red zone, and turnover differential.
On the flip side, things are almost as bright for the Panthers offense. I don't like Ron Rivera and I'm still skeptical of Cam Newton, but the numbers don't lie. They have one of the best run games in the NFL, convert drives into touchdowns at a really high rate, and take a really low number of offensive penalties. McCoy, David, and Revis will need to have standout games to slow Carolina down, but I'm willing to bet that doesn't happen.
I expect the Panthers win streak to continue and I'll go ahead and lay the touchdown.
NFL Pick: CAR -7.