The Philadelphia Eagles (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) head south this week to meet the Carolina Panthers (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS). Each will be seeking a return to the win column after dropping Week 4 contests.
Philadelphia’s loss to Kansas City marked their third straight loss, against both their opponent and the spread. Meanwhile, Carolina tasted defeat for the first time against the Dallas Cowboys. They made a late push to close the final deficit, but it wasn’t enough to cover at +4.5.
Cats Have Nine Lives, Right?
Some may have argued that the Panthers fattened themselves on weak competition before falling to a playoff-caliber squad. Nobody expected the Panthers to remain undefeated for an extended period of time, but now they’ll demonstrate their resilience. This will be our first opportunity to see how they bounce back from a loss.
The 2020 Panthers endured losing streaks of two, three, and five games in Matt Rhule’s first season as head coach. They were better against the number during those downturns, however, only failing to cover in consecutive weeks on one occasion (Weeks 1-2).
The Eagles were absolutely torched by the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill. Being victimized by the man nicknamed “Cheetah” isn’t unique, so it’s not necessarily an indictment of their pass defense. They’ll have their hands full with the Panthers’ D.J. Moore though.
Moore isn’t in the same class as Hill, but he’s developing into a star receiver nonetheless. He’s emerging as quarterback Sam Darnold’s favorite receiver, garnering 11-plus targets — and catching eight passes — in three straight contests.
Moore shares some similar traits and abilities as the San Francisco 49ers’ Deebo Samuel. Samuel racked up 101 total yards on six catches and two carries against the Eagles in Week 2. Moore could threaten the birds in similar fashions and produce another strong effort.
The Panthers, meanwhile, will face off against a mobile quarterback for the first time in Jalen Hurts. The second-year signal-caller is averaging 56.5 rushing yards to complement 291.8 passing yards. Hurts’ dual-threat exploits have only culminated in 23.5 points per game for the Eagles, but the Panthers defense will need to prepare for a fresh challenge.
Protection continues to be a struggle for the Panthers. Sam Darnold has been sacked 11 times through four games, including five times against the Cowboys. Getting after the quarterback hasn’t been a particular strength for the Eagles. They have totaled a modest eight sacks and pressured quarterbacks at a rate of 18.7 percent. Compare those figures to the Panthers’ 14 sacks and a 36.2 percent pressure rate.
The Eagles were without linemen Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata on Sunday. Mailata continues to recover from a knee sprain, but Johnson was absent due to a personal matter. Johnson is a solid bet to return, but Mailata’s availability will be determined over the course of the week. Any reinforcements will be appreciated Sunday.
Market-making book Circa opened the Panthers as 4-point home favorites with the total set at 46.5. The spread remained steady as of Tuesday morning, but the total had been bet down to 45.
Online sportsbooks offered bettors with alternative opening options. Both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook opened with a 3.5-point spread. Bettors can still find that number at both shops. Value on the Eagles is waning — spreads have dropped from 4 to 3.5 at some spots — and that will continue to be the case if books land on the key number of 3.
DraftKings also has the best money line price for Panthers backers, dealing them at -170 to win outright.