Carolina Panthers at Washington (-6.5, 50.5)
How much of an impact Josh Norman’s decision to leave Carolina via free agency had on the team will never be known, but one thing is certain: The Panthers will need a miracle to return to the postseason. Sitting three games out of the final playoff spot in the NFC with three to play, Carolina will pay a visit to Norman and the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said his team has “no room for error” and quarterback Cam Newton insisted going up against Norman, who signed a $75 million, five-year deal with the Redskins, is not part of the game plan. “It’s not a game about him vs. us,” Newton said. “We just need to win this game.” Washington is not in as precarious a situation as Carolina but still faces an uphill climb, trailing Tampa Bay by one-half game for the sixth seed in the NFC. The Redskins suffered their worst loss of the 2015 season with a 44-16 beating at Carolina 13 months ago.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Carolina (2) – Washington (-1) + home field (-3) = Washington -2
LINE HISTORY: Washington opened as 4.5-home favorites and the public quickly jumped on the home team – bumping the line up two-full points to 6.5. The total hit the board at 51 and has been faded half-point to 50.5. View the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for FedEx Field on Monday night is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the high-20’s at kickoff. There will also be a 2-7 mph winds from the north just to make things a little more frosty.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We had Washington listed as a -4.5 point favourite Sunday night and by Monday afternoon it was up to Redskins-5 , and Wednesday we were up to -6 and finally settling in on our current number of Washington -6.5 where we are seeing just over 55% of the Action on the Redskins to cover.” – Michael Stewart from CarbonGaming.ag.
Carolina – LB Luke Kuechly (probable, concussion), K Graham Gano (probable, heel), QB Cam Newton (probable, shoulder), WR Kelvin Benjamin (questionable, back), OT Daryl Williams (questionable, ankle), DE Charles Johnson (questionable, hamstring), LB David Mayo (questionable, concussion)
Washington – TE Jordan Reed (probable, shoulder), DE Chris Baker (questionable, ankle), RB Mack Brown (questionable, concussion), LB Ryan Kerrigan (questionable, knee), OT Ty Nsekhe (questionable, ankle), LB Martrell Spaight (questionable, shoulder), P Tress Way (questionable, ankle), RB Matt Jones (questionable, knee), G Spencer Long (questionable, concussion), S Will Blackmon (questionable, concussion), G Shawn Lauvao (questionable, groin), L Will Compton (questionable, knee), S Su’a Cravens (doubtful, bicep)
ABOUT CAROLINA (5-8 SU, 4-8-1 ATS, 7-6 O/U): Although Carolina is coming off a 28-16 victory over San Diego, its playoff hopes went on life support following a disastrous two-game West Coast trip in which its defense was carved up for 75 points in losses at Oakland and Seattle. Star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, sidelined for the past three games, has practiced fully for the past three days but remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Newton, dealing with a sore throwing shoulder that limited him in practice this week, has only 15 touchdown passes after tossing a career-high 35 last season and has failed to reach 200 yards in the air in three of the past four games. Carolina has amassed a league-best 39 sacks.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (7-5-1 SU, 9-4 ATS, 11-2 O/U): Washington coach Jay Gruden is not worried about Norman being overly amped up to face his former team, which allowed him to walk as a free agent after pulling back the franchise tag. “The good thing with Josh is that it doesn’t vary week to week,” Gruden said. “He gets up for everybody. That’s the beauty of him. That’s why he’s such a great player, because he doesn’t discriminate as far as him and his emotions and his level of intensity for game day.” Quarterback Kirk Cousins has surpassed 4,000 yards for the second straight season and could get a boost with tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder), limited to one catch last week. Washington has won three straight at home, averaging 33 points.
* Panthers are 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 road games.
* Panthers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
* Washington are 8-2 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
* Over is 13-3 in Panthers last 16 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Underdog is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
COVERS CONSENESUS: The Covers public is split 50/50 on the betting line. The over is getting 59 percent of the action from Covers wagers. View the full consensus date here.