Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Predictions: Are Oddsmakers Overhyping Cam Newton's Return?

The Carolina Panthers are favored in Cam Newton's return to the starting lineup. Is the line justified? NFL Expert Mike Spector takes a look and gives his pick.
Mike Spector
Tue, November 16, 5:51 PM EST

Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Predictions: Are Oddsmakers Overhyping Cam Newton's Return?

The newly-signed Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton accounted for two touchdowns on his first two plays last week against Arizona and announced to the crowd, “I’m back!” Awaiting Newton is a matchup with former head coach Ron Rivera. Carolina would be the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoffs if the season ended today. Will the Panthers improve their playoff standings with a big win this week, or will Washington prove they will be a team to be reckoned with down the stretch?

Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, November 21

Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: FOX

Click Here For Complete WFT vs. Panthers Odds

Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Injury Report

WASHINGTON

Questionable: TE Ricky Seals-Jones, OT Sam Cosmi

OUT: DE Chase Young, CB Benjamin St-Juste, WR Curtis Samuel, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, DE Montez Sweat, C Chase Roullier

CAROLINA

Questionable: CB Stephon Gilmore (finger), CB Myles Hartsfield

OUT: CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, CB Rashaan Melvin, QB Sam Darnold, OT Cameron Irving


Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Prediction

It was not quite on the level of the Jaguars over the Bills, but the Washington Football Team completed one of the season’s biggest upsets with a win over Tampa Bay last week. Washington’s defense played like the top-five defense they were a year ago, and like the one we expected them to be this year. They allowed 273 total yards, which was Tampa Bay’s lowest yardage output this season. Unfortunately, the win was costly, as they lost defensive end Chase Young for the year with a torn ACL. However, Jonathan Allen played as a man possessed in his absence, creating pressure and getting Tom Brady off his spot.

The Carolina Panthers only used Cam Newton on goal-line packages early in the game, but the team seemed to feed off his energy. Newton’s production prompted head coach Matt Rhule to say after the game, “We’ll give Cam most of the reps and get him up to speed as much as possible.” Newton made 124 starts with Ron Rivera as his coach from 2011-2019 and will look to defeat his former coach in what should be his first start this season.

Washington’s defense has been playing at a high level for two consecutive weeks. They have allowed fewer than 20 points in two straight games and allowed fewer than 250 pass yards in three straight. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady came into last week’s game with a TD:INT ratio of 8:0 in the first quarter this season but had no touchdowns and two interceptions against Washington. In addition, the Football Team pressured Brady on 12% of his dropbacks (the lowest rate this season) and instead used zone coverage 79% of the time (Brady’s highest rate since the start of 2016).

However, as impressive as Washington’s defensive performance was last week, their offensive performance was equally dazzling. Taylor Heinecke’s 81.3% completion percentage was a career-high, and the team did a great job of keeping the ball away from Tampa Bay, converting 11-of-19 third downs. That is tied for the most third-down conversions allowed by the Buccaneers since 2016. To top it off, Washington had a 19-play, 80-yard drive that took 10:26 off the game clock, which ultimately sealed the game. At the time, it was the longest time of possession drive by any team this season.

Cam Newton appeared in just eight plays in last week’s win over Arizona. Thus, it is a tall task to make sure he is ready to command this offense in one short week, especially against a Washington defense playing so well at the moment. We expect the betting public to overvalue Carolina this week, primarily on the heels of him accounting for two touchdowns. However, New England was more than happy to cut ties with Newton before the season started, so let’s see how effective he is in leading an offense he is unfamiliar with down the field.

The Panthers are a vulnerable team at home, losing three straight home games to the Eagles, Vikings, and Patriots by a combined 79-52.

The underdog is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings between these teams, and Carolina is just 1-6 ATS in their previous seven games as home favorites. The Panthers have also struggled against teams with losing records this year, covering the spread in just one of their five games. Thus, Washington is a live ‘dog this week.

Washington Football Team vs. Carolina Panthers Pick

  • Washington +3.5 (-107)

2021 NFL Against the Spread Records

Mike Spector
MikeSpector01
Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest
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