Been a while since I've posted a pick in the NFL forum. On the season my forum posted record sits at 2-1 and I couldn't help but notice some trends on a total for tonight's game. Feel free to look over my notes below and share your thoughts. BOL everyone!
Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
My Pick: Carolina Panthers/Pittsburgh Steelers Over 52 (-112) - W
Pittsburgh is 4-2 Over/Under their previous 6 matchups against Carolina
Pittsburgh is 2-1 Over/Under their previous 3 home matchups against the Panthers
Pittsburgh Recent Games
6-3 Over/Under their previous 6 games
4-1 Over/Under their previous 5 home games
8-3 Over/Under their previous 11 home games versus NFC teams
6-3 Over/Under their previous 9 home games versus NFC South teams
5-1 Over/Under their previous 6 home games after a bye
3-3 Over/Under their previous 6 games versus teams above .500
Carolina Recent Games
5-2 Over/Under their previous 7 games
3-3 Over/Under their previous 6 road games
6-2 Over/Under their previous 8 road games versus AFC teams
5-2 Over/Under their previous 7 road games versus AFC North teams
4-2 Over/Under their previous 6 road games after a bye
6-2 Over/Under their previous 8 games versus teams above .500
Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers have been looking great this year with their impressive 6-2 record. Believe it or not, the Panthers have now put up at least 21 points in six of their last seven. They've even reached the 30 point mark in four of those. Tonight they face a Steelers defense that ranks 21st in the league for passing Yds/G. That's good news for Greg Olsen who set new season highs last weekend for both catches and yards. In his only other matchup against the Steelers while wearing a Panthers jersey (back in 2014) Olsen finished with 7 targets and a touchdown. Pittsburgh's defensive strengths come against the run where they rank 6th in Yds/G. Still, with a healthy Christian McCaffrey who can also be used in the passing game, I do think the Panthers should be able to get some points tonight - Even without Torrey Smith. Before their previous 2 home games which both came against at-or-below .500 teams (Cleveland & Atlanta), the Steelers had given up at least 24 points for a stretch of 6 games in a row.
Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers can score points at home, there's no doubt about that. In fact, the team has scored at least 24 points in nine of their last ten at home. In that span they've cracked the 30-point mark six times. That's significantly better than on the road where we've seen Pittsburgh crack the 30-point mark just twice in their previous nineteen. Tonight they face a Panthers defense that's also been weak against the pass, ranking 19th in the league for passing Yds/G. That's good news for Antonio Brown who finished with 2 touchdowns on 10 receptions in his last matchup against the Panthers (also back in 2014). Carolina's defensive strengths also comes against the run where they rank 8th in Yds/G. However, we've seen James Conner do his fair share of pass-catching this season as well. With Big Ben being left off the injury report and everyone else appearing healthy on the Pittsburgh running/receiving squad, I would think the Steelers should be able to get some points on the board tonight as well. Carolina has allowed at least 22 points in five of their last six, and even let both New Orleans and Atlanta put up 31/each against them.
Overall, the one place I could see each of these defenses performing well tonight is against the run. However, I don't really see that playing a huge factor with James Connor getting a season-high 9 targets last weekend (he's had at least 4 every week) and Christian McCaffrey who's had at least 6 targets in all but one game so far this season. I suspect both teams will lean towards the pass which should make this a high scoring game. The total opened at 50 and is now at 52 which still seems plenty doable. When these two last played in 2014 that game totaled 56. Thus far in 2018 there have been 9 games on Thursday night, 5 of them have totaled more than 52 points..