Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers (-7, 46.5 o/u)
Two teams trending in drastically different directions will meet on Monday Night Football in Week 8 as the Indianapolis Colts (3-4, 2-1 away) head south to face the Carolina Panthers (6-0, 3-0 home) in Charlotte (5:30 PM Eastern).
Cam Newton and the Panthers stayed perfect by downing the Eagles last Sunday in Primetime (27-16), getting over 200 yards from their rushing attack and sacking Sam Bradford five times. In just his second game back from injury, Pro-Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly looked back to full speed, racking up eight solo tackles. The return of Kuechly is a case of the rich getting richer; Carolina’s defense had been excellent even without the Boston College product in the lineup, holding opponents to a shade over 20 PPG in his absence.
On Monday, the Panther D will look to feast on an Indy offensive line that leaves a lot to be desired. The front five has the Colts averaging under 100 yards per game on the ground and has allowed their QBs to get sacked 15 times (and pressured countless more).
The play of quarterback Andrew Luck hasn’t helped matters. The fourth-year pivot has completed just 56-percent of his passes on the year and has already tossed nine interceptions (which puts him on pace for the highest INT total of his career).
As bad as the Indy offense has been, though, the defense has (arguably) been worse. Sitting last in the league in yards allowed (408 per game), the unit has also given up 27 or more points on four occasions; while there’s no shame in getting torched for 34 by the Pats, giving up 33 to the Titans and 27 to the Saints (at home) is bury-your-head-in-the-sand worthy.
Stopping the run has been a problem all season (so has stopping the pass, for that matter) and that figures to continue this weekend against a Carolina team that leads the league with 144 ground yards per game.
Seven points is a decent-sized spread, and the Colts have a penchant for racking up yards and points in garbage time, but Stewart should be able to run all over this Indy team. Take the Panthers – who are a solid 5-1 ATS on the year – to cover at home.
ATS Pick: Carolina -7.
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