CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-3)
at MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-5)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Carolina -4, Total: 41
The sizzling-hot Panthers put their six-game winning streak (SU and ATS) on the line when they pay the Dolphins a visit Sunday.
Carolina held on to beat the Patriots 24-20 on Monday night behind 3 TD passes from Cam Newton, while Miami gave up 435 yards to the Chargers last week, but still won 20-16. The Panthers have outscored opponents 154 to 88 during their win streak, and have not turned the ball over in four of those wins. The Dolphins have a weak 26:40 time of possession at home this year, where they are 3-2 (SU and ATS), but are a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) all-time versus Carolina, which includes a 24-17 victory in the most recent matchup in 2009. However, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is 21-11 ATS (66%) in games played on a grass field, and has led his team to an 8-1 ATS mark (89%) in the past two seasons versus teams allowing 350+ total YPG, outscoring them by 10.7 PPG. Miami is 6-0 ATS at home after having lost 4 or 5 out of their last six games over the past three seasons, and all NFL underdogs (or pick) in a game involving two teams with +/- 0.4 yards per play after 8+ games, after allowing 400+ yards in their previous game are 108-64 ATS (63%) since 1983. Miami's offensive line is decimated with OT Jonathan Martin on personal leave, OG Richie Incognito suspended, C Mike Pouncey (kidney) doubtful and OT Will Yeatman out for the season with a torn ACL. Carolina is mostly healthy, but DE Charles Johnson (knee) is doubtful to suit up on Sunday.
Will the Panthers extend their long winning streak on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are surging in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 60% ATS record (29-19-6) over the past four weeks. StatFox Brian went 2-1-2 ATS in Week 11 to improve to 70% ATS (14-6-2) over the past five weeks where he's been above .500 every week. Brian has not had a losing week in NFL Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Gary has four perfect weeks in NFL Best Bets since Week 4, while StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (15-11-1) in that same timeframe. StatFox Dave is 54% ATS (7-6-1) in NFL Best Bets since Week 8.
Carolina QB Cam Newton is having his best season of his career, tallying a 91.8 passer rating with a 63.2% completion rate, 2,179 yards (7.3 YPA), 16 TD and only 8 INT. During the current six-game win streak, he has completed 67.4% of his throws for 1,294 yards (7.5 YPA), 10 TD and 3 INT. Although this offense ranks 22nd in the league in total yards (321.2 YPG), Newton has orchestrated the NFL's best third-down offense (48.4% conversions) while chewing up more clock than any other offense in the league with a hefty 33:20 time of possession. Newton has helped to achieve these statistics by rushing for 328 yards on 4.7 YPC and 4 TD. The Panthers also have three other capable running backs in DeAngelo Williams (579 rush yards, 4.1 YPC, 2 TD), Jonathan Stewart (94 rush yards, 3.6 YPC) and Mike Tolbert (230 rush yards, 3.5 YPC, 4 TD), giving them the 10th-best rushing offense in the league at 125.3 YPG. As strong as Carolina has been on the ground, the club has been even tougher defending the run, allowing only 84.5 rushing YPG (3rd in NFL) on 3.8 YPC (8th in league). Teams have struggled to throw on the Panthers as well, gaining just 209.5 YPG through the air (5th in NFL). This equates to the league's third-best total defense (294 YPG allowed) and the NFL's top scoring defense (13.5 PPG allowed). Carolina has a strong pass rush (31 sacks, T-9th in NFL), and has been incredibly stingy both on third downs (35.2% conversions, 7th in league) and in the red zone (37.5% efficiency, 3rd in NFL). The Panthers have also done a great job creating mistakes, totaling 23 takeaways with at least one forced turnover in all 10 games.
Miami's offense has been terrible this season, compiling the second-fewest yards in the league (308 YPG) and ranking 23rd in scoring offense with 21.3 PPG. Both the passing game (219.1 YPG, 20th in NFL) and rushing game (88.7 YPG, 24th in league) have been subpar, and a lot of that has to do with the poor play from the offensive line. The Dolphins have taken an NFL-high 41 sacks this year, with QB Ryan Tannehill hitting the turf at least two times in all 10 games, including 21 sacks absorbed in five home games. Tannehill has still been able to improve from his rookie season though, increasing his passer rating from 76.1 to 81.5 with a 61.2% completion rate, 2,474 passing yards (6.8 YPA), 14 TD and 11 INT. However, he has really struggled in the fourth quarter of games, compiling a woeful 60.2 passer rating (2 TD and 5 INT). The Dolphins have no receivers with even 600 yards this year, and TE Charles Clay (4 TD) is the only healthy Miami player with more than two receiving touchdowns this season. The running game has been a bit inconsistent, but it does have 100+ yards in four of the past five contests. However, both RBs Lamar Miller (467 rush yards, 4.5 YPC, 2 TD) and Daniel Thomas (271 rush yards, 3.7 YPC, 3 TD) will have a difficult time gaining yards on this stout Panthers run defense. Speaking of defense, Miami's stop-unit has been below average this year both in rushing defense (122.6 YPG, 25th in NFL) and passing defense (242.3 YPG, 19th in league). But a strong red zone defense (50%, T-8th in NFL) has led to a quality scoring defense (22.5 PPG, 12th in league). And despite being average in third down defense (37.6% conversions, T-24th in NFL), Miami's defense has logged 32:38 per game, the fourth-most of any NFL defense. But on the positive side, the Dolphins have been able to force at least one turnover in every game, totaling 17 takeaways this season.