Week 7 NFL Picks: Washington’s Beck gets the start against Newton, Panthers

Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 10/23/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Carolina -3
Current Betting Line:  Carolina -2.5
Opening Total:  44.5
Current Total:  43.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Panthers Redskins NFL Preview
Cam Newton and the Panthers are favored for just the second time this season.

The Washington Redskins will have a new starting quarterback under center on Sunday when they visit the Carolina Panthers.  John Beck gets the call for Washington (3-2), replacing Rex Grossman, who threw four interceptions in a 20-13 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Beck is 0-4 in his previous four career starts, all of which came with the Miami Dolphins when they were 1-15 his rookie year.  Grossman turned the ball over 11 times in his five starts this year, and head coach Mike Shanahan is hoping Beck can at least protect the ball.

Meanwhile, the Panthers (1-5) have just one win this season but have continued to ride rookie QB Cam Newton.  They have hung tough in most of their games thanks to Newton, who has helped them to a 4-1 mark against the spread in their past five.

Carolina (-2.5, 43.5) is favored for only the second time this year and beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-10 in Week 3 as 3.5-point favorites.  That remains the team’s lone victory, but a favorable matchup against Beck and the Redskins could earn another one.

Washington blanked the Eagles 10-0 in the second half, but that was after they trailed 20-3 at halftime.  The Redskins picked off Philadelphia’s Michael Vick and Vince Young once each but could not contain Vick or running back LeSean McCoy on the ground, as they combined to rush for 180 yards on 35 carries.

The Panthers also run the ball well behind Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who will present another defensive challenge for Washington.  The trio totaled 142 rushing yards between them in a 31-17 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week and leads a rushing attack that ranks fifth in the NFL since Week 3, averaging 145 per game.

The problem for Carolina lately has been Newton’s decision-making, as he threw two of his three interceptions in the fourth quarter at Atlanta and has nine overall this season.  The Panthers have blown leads in the fourth quarter in three of their five losses.

Washington has the benefit of knowing that the underdog is 9-0 against the spread in the last nine meetings with Carolina while the road team is 7-2 ATS.  The Redskins will be facing a run defense that ranks second to last in the league, surrendering 140.3 yards per game.  The Panthers are also just 2-7 ATS in their last nine games against teams with a winning record.

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