Monday Night Football Picks: Patriots at Panthers Week 11 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/14/2013
Now we are talking! After being subjected to a pretty lousy “Monday Night Football” schedule all season, we get a potential Super Bowl preview this week when red-hot Carolina and its dominant defense hosts New England. That potential Super Bowl matchup is +8000 on Sportsbook.ag. Yes, it's true that neither is likely to be the top seed in its conference, but if you have noticed, top seeds aren't exactly making a lot of Super Bowls lately, much less winning them (last: 2009 Saints).
Of course, these two teams met in a great Super Bowl in Houston on Feb. 1, 2004 (this year's game thus 10 years plus one day after), when the Pats won 32-29 on a last-second field goal. This also starts a good run of MNF games, with Niners-Redskins, Saints-Seahawks, Cowboys-Bears and Ravens-Lions to follow (the finale, Falcons-Niners is a yawner).
Patriots at Panthers Betting Story Lines
I loved Carolina in the preseason as it had some pretty nice long-shot odds to win the NFC, and I'm feeling good right now. I surely wasn't after that 1-3 start when it looked like Coach Ron Rivera might be fired, but the Cats haven't lost since. It looked like a bit of fool's gold as Carolina routed Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Atlanta, not a winning team among them. Any doubts evaporated last week in a 10-9 win at San Francisco when that terrific defense held the Niners to 151 total yards. The 49ers had won five straight games and scored at least 31 in all of them. It's the fifth straight game Carolina has allowed 15 points or less, and the only two times the team allowed more than 20 it lost (also in the opener, 12-7 to Seattle).
That's the only thing that worries me is whether there's enough offense here to really beat a team like Seattle or New Orleans in a road playoff game this winter. Cam Newton has been mostly good during the five-game winning streak but not putting up big numbers. And he has three picks in the past two games. The Panthers will win with that defense -- No. 1 in the NFC -- and a good running game behind the trio of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. The team already has had three NFC Defensive Players of the Week, including last week in linebacker Luke Kuechly. Look for a big game from the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year as the former Boston College star plays his first game back in the area.
Tom Brady hadn't looked much like himself this season until Rob Gronkowski got back, and Brady and the New England offense exploded in its last game, beating Pittsburgh 55-31 on Nov. 3. Brady had by far his best game of the year, throwing for 432 yards (on just 23 completions) and four touchdowns. It's the most points scored by a team this year, the most ever against Pittsburgh as well as the most yards (610). Gronk had nine catches for 143 yards and his first TD -- he's been targeted 33 times in his three games back. He will be priority No. 1 for Carolina to shadow.
As good as that Panthers defense is, Brady seems to shine under the lights. He is 13-4 in his career on MNF with at least three touchdown passes in nine of those games -- he has thrown for four in three of his last four Monday night games. And the Pats are always a monster in November, going 36-13 in the month since 2001 and with four undefeated months of November, including last year.
Injury-wise, the Pats could get back No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib on Monday. He missed the past three games with a hip injury. New England would love to stick him on Steve Smith, the only legitimate receiver Carolina has. Versatile running back Shane Vereen, who broke his wrist in Week 1 after a big game, also could make his return.
Patriots at Panthers Week 11 Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At Sportsbook.ag, Carolina is a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 46.5. The Patriots are 5-4 ATS (1-3 on road) and 4-5 “over/under” (2-2 on road). The Panthers are 6-3 ATS (3-1 at home) and 4-5 O/U (1-3 at home). New England has covered its past five Monday games and six of past seven in November overall. It has failed to cover its past four when scoring at least 30 points in the previous game. Carolina is 5-2 ATS in its past seven November games. It is 0-5 ATS in its past five games when failing to pass for at least 150 yards in the previous game. The over is 4-1 in New England's past five Monday games. The over is 13-3-2 in Carolina's past 18 against teams with a winning record. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Monday Night Football Picks: Patriots at Panthers Betting Predictions
My concern is with the New England defense, without its two best players, Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo, the rest of the season. It has allowed at least 27 points in three of the past four games yet won three of those. Also, the Pats have historically had problems with smash-mouth teams like Carolina. The Jets are like that, and they beat New England once this season and almost twice. Ditto the Ravens (in the AFC title game) and Seahawks last year. The Pats remind me of Oregon in that regard. In addition, both Pats losses this year have come on the road. Carolina hasn't lost at home since Week 1. You have to love those home favorites under a field goal. I do here. Take the under as defense wins the night.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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