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Panthers Need to Better Protect Newton

We may only be 4 weeks into the 2016 season, but already online NFL betting fans have been hit with their fair share of surprises; the Patriots are undefeated despite endless woes at quarterback, the Broncos don’t seemed fazed by the loss of a future Hall of Famer, and the Eagles joining both those teams as one of the few to remain undefeated. Denver has had no problem moving on with Trevor Siemian under center, which can be justified by how fearsome their defense is. But one shocking truth that is hard to justify is the fact that the Carolina Panthers are 1-2 this season. And sportsbooks have taken notice, just look at the odds the Panthers are facing against their Week 4 opponent.

Week 4 – Sunday the 2nd of October

Carolina Panthers -3 (-115) 50 ½ (-110) -160
Atlanta Falcons +3 (-105) 50 ½ (-110) +140

Carolina nearly made NFL history last year when they almost became the 2nd team to go undefeated in the regular season, but lose the Super Bowl. The Panthers got their chance at revenge when they faced the Broncos in their season opener, but ultimately fell short. What they didn’t realize is that the Broncos basically made a road map of how to neutralize Cam Newton; pressure, pressure, pressure. Coming off a phenomenal season many fans expected Newton to pick up right where he left off. Unfortunately for the 27-year old quarterback, it seems defenses have figured out how to neutralize the dual-threat quarterback. Coming into Sunday’s contest Newton sports a pitiful 78.0 passer rating, after throwing for a mere 5 touchdowns and a whopping 5 interceptions. So far this season Newton has already been sacked 12 times, and it seems like every other play Newton is eating turf. The Broncos proved that banging up Newton is the best way to beat the Panthers, and teams have been following that precedent since. The Panthers are hoping to clean up their offense before facing off against their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons. But with the way Carolina has been playing, is an online football bet on the Panthers a wise choice?

Surprisingly enough the online NFL betting odds are still painting the Panthers as the favorite in Sunday’s contest. However, Atlanta seems like a much better team on paper. The Falcons are currently leading the league in offense for points per game with 34.7, and total yards per contest with 448. Atlanta ranks 5th in rushing yards per contest with 136, and 4th in the league for passing yards per game with 312. The Panthers passing attack doesn’t come remotely close to those numbers but their running game isn’t half bad. Heading into this weekend, the Panthers are averaging 146 yards per game on the ground, the third best average in the league. There’s no doubt Carolina’s roster is bridled with talent, but they just haven’t been able to execute so far this year. The Panthers are only averaging 25.3 points per game, despite gaining 389.3 yards per game (7th in the league).

While there’s no arguing that Atlanta has better numbers through the air, it would be just as futile trying to argue that the Falcons have a better defense. The Falcons rank near the bottom of the league in every stat imaginable. The Panthers on the other hand, are much more impressive defensively. The Panthers have the 3rd best defense in the league, with an average of 273 total yards allotted per game. But it’s unlikely this game will be decided on defense, rather, this Sunday’s contest will be determined by how well the Panthers can protect Newton. If Atlanta is able to put consistent pressure on Newton, then it’s likely the Panthers will lose another game. If the Falcons win they can put themselves in a prime position to win the division, so you can be certain both teams will put their best foot forward. With that in mind, the game between the Panthers and the Falcons might prove difficult to predict for the online NFL betting community.