After earning their first loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, the Carolina Panthers head to Baltimore to face another AFC North team who just recorded their second-straight win with a takedown of the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. Adding intrigue to this matchup is the highly anticipated return of former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith to M&T Bank Stadium.
Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Preview and Prediction
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
When: Sunday, September 28, 1:00 PM ET
Line: Carolina Panthers (+3) at Baltimore Ravens (-3); total: 40.5 – see all NFL lines
Betting on the Carolina Panthers
[sc:NFL240banner ]The Panthers were left to pick up the pieces after receiving a 37-19 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who took full advantage of Carolina’s faulty offensive line and defense.
The Panthers will now take the road for the second time this season to meet the Ravens. Dating back to last season, Carolina is 6-1 in its last seven road games.
The loss to Steelers was a bitter pill to swallow for Carolina as the team appeared to be unable to do anything right. The rushing game was all but absent for the Panthers. They only managed to gain a pitiful 42-yard output on the ground, pulling their average rushing yards per game down to 72.3. It’s a head-scratching figure given that the Steelers had allowed an average of 174.0 rushing yards in two games before Sunday’s tussle with Carolina.
If Pittsburgh can do that to them, then don’t expect much from the Panthers’ backfield against Baltimore, which holds down opponents to just 89.6 rushing yards a game.
That said, expect the Panthers to wage a pass-heavy attack against Baltimore, who have been leaky against the pass (262.3 passing yards allowed per game) thus far this season. That also means a heavier workload for the tandem of tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Olsen is averaging 74.6 receiving yards per game, while Benjamin owns an 84.3 clip and is coming off a sublime performance against the Steelers in which he caught 8 of his 11 targets for 115 yards.
But before the Panthers begin daydreaming on the kind of terror they’ll unleash on Baltimore’s secondary, they must first fix their flimsy offensive line, which allowed three sacks on quarterback Cam Newton against Pittsburgh.
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Betting on the Baltimore Ravens
There seems to be no amount of distraction the Ravens will allow to sidetrack them this season. This was evident when Baltimore scored a 23-21 road win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday for the their second win of the season. It was also their second-straight win against the spread.
The Ravens are now 2-0 since cutting ties with running back Ray Rice. Speaking of the running backs, Baltimore’s back up-laden backfield has become a surprising asset for the team.
When the Ravens and Rice parted ways, Bernard Pierce inherited the starter role with Justin Forsett taking the no. 2 position in the depth chart. But as the Ravens explored on Sunday, the talent in their backfield runs deeper than that, as Lorenzo Taliaferro turned on the boosters in his cleats and ran for 91 yards and a touchdown. The rookie was a fill-in for Pierce, who sat out the game due to a thigh injury.
If Pierce will play next week, then the Ravens will have a three-headed monster in the backfield, ready to torment the Carolina’s defense, which was exposed when the Steelers collected 264 rushing yards against them in Week 3.
Steve Smith is perhaps just as excited as Baltimore’s running backs at the prospect of facing the Panthers. The former Carolina wideout is among the leaders in the NFL with 290 receiving yards, which includes his 101-yard output on five catches against Cleveland. He has developed solid chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco, and is now poised to expand his role with the team after tight end Dennis Pitta went down with a hip injury.
The Ravens (-3) win on the strength of its robust running game.[sc:NFL490Banner ]
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