A pair of teams that have defied preseason predictions will square off on Monday night when the Carolina Panthers put their perfect record on the line against the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Not much was expected from the Panthers after losing No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season during training camp, but they entered Week 8 as one of five unbeaten teams in the league.
“We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done,” Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said. “Is it good? Yes, but at the same time we’re still trying to conquer things that people said we couldn’t do, and surprising ourselves at the same time.” Conversely, the Colts were considered among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl behind quarterback Andrew Luck, but the former No. 1 overall pick has battled an injured shoulder and ineffectiveness in the team’s 3-4 start. Indianapolis has the good fortune to play in the weak AFC South and its only three victories have come at the expense of its division foes. The matchup with the Panthers kicks off a three-game stretch in which the Colts will face opponents with an combined 18-1 mark entering the weekend.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Panthers as 6.5-point home faves. The total is up to 46.5 from the opening 45.
Colts – S Clayton Geathers (Probable, knee), S Mike Adams (Probable, hamstring), LB Nate Irving (Questionable, knee), S Winston Guy (Questionable, shoulder), C Khaled Holmes (Questionable, undisclosed), RB Josh Robinson (Questionable, undisclosed), WR Phillip Dorsett (Mid Dec, ankle), RB Tyler Varga (I-R, concussion), CB D’Joun Smith (I-R, knee), DT Arthur Jones (I-R, ankle), CB Tevin Mitchel (I-R, shoulder).
Panthers – LB Thomas Davis (Probable, undisclosed), T Mike Remmers (Questionable, elbow), FB Mike Tolbert (Questionable, personal), C Ryan Kalil (Questionable, ankle), T Daryl Williams (Questionable, knee), LB Shaq Thompson (Doubtful, knee), DT Dwan Edwards (Out, ankle), DE Mario Addison (Out, shoulder), DE Frank Alexander (Out for season, Achilles), TE Richie Brockel (I-R, hamstring), DE Charles Johnson (I-R, hamstring), T Nate Chandler (I-R, knee), DE Arthur Miley (I-R, knee), WR Kelvin Benjamin (I-R, knee).
WEATHER: A 96 percent chance of rain with temperatures in the the high-50s and wind blowing across the field at around 6 mph.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Colts (+0.5) + Panthers (-4.0) + home field (-3.0) = Panthers -7.5
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Andrew Luck didn’t complete a single pass for the first 20 minutes against the Saints and two of his three late TD passes came when the opposing cornerback fell down. Carolina finished -2 in turnover margin and ran 23 fewer plays than Philadelphia; getting gashed on the ground on Sunday Night, yet they still came away with the win and cover.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE COLTS (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS, 3-4 O/U): After having its three-game winning streak snapped in a home loss to the New England Patriots, Indianapolis turned in a clunker last week, falling behind by 27 points to visiting New Orleans before a belated rally came up short in a 27-21 setback. Luck tossed three scoring passes for the second game in a row, but he was also intercepted twice to mark the fourth time in his five starts he has thrown multiple picks. The Colts rank last in the league, allowing an average of 408.6 yards, and were gashed for 183 rushing yards by New Orleans.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS, 3-2-1 O/U): Much has been made about the relative lack of strength of Carolina’s schedule, but the Panthers are coming off a pair of impressive victories, rallying from nine points down in the fourth quarter at Seattle before knocking off visiting Philadelphia 27-16 last week. A patchwork corps of wide receivers has contributed to a career-low 55.8 completion percentage for Newton, who has run for four TDs to help spark the league’s top-ranked ground game (144.7 yards). The Panthers are yielding 18.3 points while ranking eight in sacks and passing yards allowed.
* Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Road team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a ATS loss.
* Under is 6-2-1 in Panthers last nine home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-eight percent of Covers users are backing the Panthers.