Monday Night Football Predictions: Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/15/2016
Believe it or not, it's already the penultimate Monday night game of the 2016 regular season because the league doesn't want any teams playing on Monday in Week 17 and thus having a short playoff week -- or just having nothing to play for that night and rendering the game unwatchable.
I consider myself excellent at math, but thankfully the NFL has figured out playoff scenarios for me because I assumed the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (5-8) were eliminated. To quote Lee Corso: "Not so fast, my friend!" The Panthers could well be officially out by the time they take the field Monday. But here's what must happen for them to return to the playoffs:
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*-Panthers win this game, Week 16 vs. Atlanta and Week 17 at Tampa Bay.
*-Falcons lose Sunday vs. San Francisco, Week 16 at Carolina and Week 17 vs. New Orleans.
*-Buccaneers lose Sunday at Dallas, Week 16 at New Orleans and Week 17 vs. Carolina
*-Saints lose Sunday at Arizona and then win both Week 16 vs. Tampa and Week 17 in Atlanta.
That would leave us with a three-way tie for first in the NFC South at 8-8 between the Panthers, Bucs and Falcons, and Carolina would win the tiebreaker. I hope you got all that because I'm dizzy. All that clearly isn't going to happen regardless.
Defending NFC East champion Washington (7-5-1) won't be taking the division title again, nor did I expect it to. I honestly thought the Redskins would finish somewhere around 7-9 this year, but Kirk Cousins has proven his breakout 2015 season was largely no fluke. The Redskins are currently sitting at No. 7 in the NFC, and that tie in London vs. Cincinnati could be costly. Tampa Bay (8-5) holds down the NFC's final wild-card spot, so Washington will be rooting for Dallas on Sunday night. Green Bay and Minnesota (7-6) are right behind the Redskins. But Washington beat both of them. The Skins didn't play the Bucs. Washington finishes at Chicago and then home to the Giants (who may have nothing to play for).
Panthers at Redskins Betting Story Lines
Before I get to what these teams did last week, the top story here revolves around Washington cornerback Josh Norman. He was a Pro Bowler last year for Carolina and certainly a big reason why the Panthers were 15-1 in the regular season and won the NFC title. The Panthers couldn't agree to a long-term deal with him this offseason and slapped the franchise tag on Norman -- only to rescind it later and let Norman walk for nothing. The Redskins were the first team he visited and they wouldn't let him leave without signing a big contract.
Carolina GM Dave Gettleman said he preferred to extend a couple of his defensive linemen instead of giving Norman some massive deal. Except Gettleman hasn't signed anyone, and that defense misses Norman in a huge way. Not letting Norman play one year on the tag is one of the worst decisions in franchise history and tops Houston giving Brock Osweiler $37 million guarantee as the biggest mistake this past offseason by any team. Last year, Carolina was No. 1 against the pass in terms of opposing QB rating, No. 11 in yards allowed and gave up 21 TD throws while picking off 24 passes. This year, the Panthers in those first two categories are No. 20 and No. 30 and have given up 24 TDs with 15 INTs. Obviously that's not all on missing Norman as the Panthers have dealt with some injuries, but a big portion surely is. Norman usually shut down half the field, which allowed defensive coordinator Sean McDermott flexibility to be aggressive up front. Expect Norman to shadow Kelvin Benjamin on Monday. Benjamin has been basically invisible since about mid-October and appeared to be benched at the end of last week's game.
The Panthers ended a two-game losing streak last Sunday with a 28-16 win over San Diego despite Cam Newton completing just 10-for-27 for 160 yards with a TD and pick. The completion percentage was the second-worst of his career. He's been below 50 percent the past four games. Newton did have an MRI on his shoulder this week, but it was clear. I could see him being shut down after this game, however. He has regressed, but his O-Line is terrible.
The Redskins also ended a two-game losing streak last Sunday with a 27-22 comeback win in Philadelphia. Chris Thompson won it on a 25-yard TD run with 1:53 to go. With 21 seconds remaining and the Eagles on the Washington 14, Ryan Kerrigan had a sack that forced quarterback Carson Wentz to fumble to end it. Cousins threw for 234 yards and two scores but had a pick-six. Tight end Jordan Reed was in question with a shoulder injury. He played but wasn't effective with one catch. Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams returned from his four-game suspension and played great.
Panthers at Redskins Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Washington is a 7-point favorite (+120) with a total of 51. On the moneyline, the Redskins are -255 and Panthers +215. On the alternate lines, the Redskins are -6.5 (-102), -6 (-110), -5.5 (-117) and -5 (-122). Carolina is 4-8-1 against the spread (1-4-1 on road) and 7-6 "over/under" (5-1 on road). Washington is 9-4 ATS (4-2 at home) and 11-2 O/U (6-0 at home).
The Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. They are 1-8-1 ATS in their past 10 on the road. The Redskins are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a win. They are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 8-1 in Carolina's past nine road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 13-3 in Washington's past 16 vs. teams with a losing record. The underdog is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings.
Panthers at Redskins Betting Prediction
These teams met Week 11 last year in Charlotte, and Washington was crushed 44-16. That was easily the Redskins' biggest beating of 2015. Newton threw a career-high five TD passes (all to different receivers), four in the first half. The Redskins coughed it up five times, Cousins was sacked five times (also picked off once and lost two fumbles), and the Redskins rushed for 14 yards on 12 carries.
I like the total here more than the side. If this game were early in the season on a warm night, I'd go over. But it's going to be about 22 in Landover on Monday night. So I'm going under. Take Washington but at -6.5.
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