Panthers Look For Validation in Week 10 Thursday Night Football Betting

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D.S. Williamson

November 6th, 2018

NFL WEEK 10 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BETTING Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday, November 8th – Heinz Field – 8:20pm ET Odds: Steelers (-4) 51.5

One of the best in the NFC takes on one of the best in the AFC when the Carolina Panthers travel to Pittsburgh to battle the Steelers as road dogs in NFL Week 10 Thursday Night Football betting. The Panthers are the only team in the NFC South that’s kept pace with the division leading New Orleans.

Carolina believes that NFL fans and analysts haven’t taken them seriously this season. Beating one of the top teams in the AFC most definitely would change the doubters’ minds. But, Pittsburgh won’t just lie down and let Carolina prove how good they are under the intense, bright lights of prime time.

The Steelers are on a roll, having won 4 in a row and 5 of their last 6. Pittsburgh faces a stern test on Thursday night. Will they pass?

Newton and McCaffrey Look to Tear Down the Steel Curtain

For years, the Carolina Panthers have relied on quarterback Cam Newton’s brilliance. Newton won the NFL MVP in 2015 after single-handedly taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Although Carolina lost to the Denver Broncos, Newton's status as a marquee player had been firmly established.

He’s been great since the Super Bowl season, but defensive coordinators have adjusted. Everyone knew that to beat Carolina, all you had to do was force Cam to throw the football. When he did, he often failed because there wasn’t a running back that could help Newton move the ball down the field. The offense needed more than Newton bulling his way downfield.

That all changed when Carolina drafted former Stanford standout Christian McCaffrey. In 2017, during his rookie season, McCaffrey caught 80 passes. Five of those passes went for touchdowns. He only averaged 3.7 yards per rush, which led many to believe that McCaffrey would only serve as Newton’s checkdown option.

It’s crazy how some players can improve from their rookie season. While McCaffrey struggled to reach the 4.0 yards per carry mark his rookie season, he’s blown through it this season. McCaffrey now rushes for 4.6 yards on every touch. He’s run for over 500 yards while also catching 49 passes.

Carolina’s top running back and all-pro quarterback will try to break apart one of the better defenses in the NFL. The Steelers haven’t allowed a team to score more than 21 points since a 14-26 loss to Baltimore on Sep. 30. That’s a string of 4 straight where the Steel Curtain has stepped it up.

If the Panthers hope to keep their winning streak alive, they must tear down the curtain, Newton must get the ball to McCaffrey, and Cam must do the Newton thing and keep plays alive with is legs.

Steelers Face a Test Against an NFC Powerhouse

Although Pittsburgh have been great in the last month, they haven’t faced the best of the best. Nobody will confuse the Falcons, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens for the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina’s a 6-2 team that’s won on the road at Washington and Philadelphia already this season. The Steelers’ fan base can rock Heinz Field. It won’t affect Cam Newton and his squad, which is why for Pittsburgh to win, they must dig deeper as the NFL Week 10 Thursday Night Football betting favorite,

Mike Tomlin has to craft more ways to get running back James Connor loose versus a Panthers’ front seven that allows only 94.1 rushing yards per. If the Steelers can find success on the ground, no matter how minimal, it should open up the air attack. There’s no better quarterback and wide receiver combination in the NFL than Big Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.

Pittsburgh’s best hope of beating Carolina is to turn the game into a shootout. Counting on their defense to stop The Cam and Christian Show the same way they smothered Baltimore won't work.

Week 10 Thursday Night Football Betting and Free Pick

The line opened at -4.0 for the home team and has sat there through the early stages of the week. Most professional NFL handicappers want to take the points because of the rarely spoken rule that says when two teams on the same level meet, the home team’s worth at least 3 points. That one extra point is driving the action on the Panthers.

If enough action falls to Carolina, the line should move to a fairer Pittsburgh -3. With that in mind, a couple of negative Carolina trends point to the Steelers covering. The Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.

Plenty of negative Pittsburgh Steelers trends exist in this matchup, but their ability to put up big plays tips the scale in their favor for me. Newton is limited by what his receivers offer him and while they've played well throughout the season, Carolina is far from a downfield passing threat. Big Ben can throw to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Newton has no choice but to dink and dunk while Roethlisberger can send Brown or Smith-Schuster vertical for long touchdown passes. If the Panthers try to adjust, Pittsburgh can go back to the rushing attack with Connor.

Any way I look at it, the Steelers have the advantage. I’ll hope the line goes to -3 before kickoff. Even if it doesn’t, I’m backing Pittsburgh to make it 5 in a row straight up and against the spread.

Week 10 Thursday Night Football Betting Free Pick: Steelers -4