Sunday NFL Picks: Carolina Panthers Offer Moneyline Value

While not one of our premium Sunday NFL Picks, Carolina on the moneyline offers some good value over the long term
The New York Giants will have revenge on their minds when they welcome the Carolina Panthers to the new Meadowlands Stadium. The Panthers smoked the Giants, 41-9 in the final game in Giants Stadium behind Jonathan Stewart’s 206 yard rushing effort and Matt Moore’s 3 touchdowns.

The Giants opened as 7 point favorites. While some books have stayed at 7, others have gone to 6 with a couple in between at 6 ½ points on the current NFL odds. The public likes the Giants against the spread at over 60%, and on the moneyline at about 75%. But I think the Panthers match up well with the Giants and have a very good chance of winning this game outright. The Panthers are paying +230 on the moneyline, which is a nice reward for a bit of a gamble.

The Panthers destroyed the Giants last year, and it wasn’t like the game didn’t matter for the G-men. The Giants were playing for a playoff spot; they needed to win that game. And they didn’t come close, turning the ball over 4 times. Jonathan Stewart shredded what used to be a respectable defense. Matt Moore relieved Jake Delhomme last season, going 4-1 as a starter. Moore finished that game 15-20 with 3 tds. I’m not sure how Delhomme struggled so much considering he had arguably the best rushing attack between Stewart and DeAngelo Williams and one of the League’s most dangerous receivers in Steve Smith. Both Stewart and Williams rushed for over 1,000 yards a piece!

The Panthers also had an underrated defense. Unfortunately that defense saw a lot of turnover in the offseason. No loss was bigger than defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers, a freakish athlete, bolted for the Windy City to play with the Bears. But the defense looked sharp in the preseason. Granted, the preseason is not much of a measuring stick. But it is an opportunity for new players to get experience with returning starters. According to linebacker Jon Beason, “The beauty of it is, everyone said, ‘The Panthers don’t have any guys. Everyone’s gone. They’re going to struggle.’ I’ve seen everybody pick it up. It’s been great. There are so many new faces, but we’ve really gelled.”

The Giants are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2009 campaign. Both Eli Manning and Steve Smith (the other Steve Smith, for now) had great years, though. Manning threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 tds, while Smith had over 1,200 receiving yards and 7 tds. But Brandon Jacobs regressed, failing to reach the 1,000 yard mark. And the defense was awful, giving up 427 points. They were third to last in the NFL in scoring defense. The Giants always prided themselves on stellar defense and a punishing ground game, but both were absent last year. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was fired, replaced by former Buffalo d-coordinator Perry Fewell. Also, the Giants added safeties Antrel Rolle from Arizona and Deon Grant from Seattle. While those two safeties will certainly help, I’m not convinced the Giants are anywhere near the team they used to be.

In a way, the Panthers look more like the old Giants than the current Giants with two solid running backs and a strong defense leading the way. Matt Moore is still a bit of a question mark; playing well in 5 games doesn’t necessarily translate into a productive NFL career (Derek Anderson had one great year at Cleveland, then what?). Nevertheless, I like the way the Panthers handled New York last year in a game that mattered so much. The Panthers look like the day’s best moneyline play.

Like always, the professionals at Maddux Sports have the guaranteed wins for this Sunday. Do yourself a favor and make some easy money with our week 1 NFL picks.

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