Panthers Steelers Spread Line and Predictions NFL Week 16

The Steelers let the Baltimore Ravens back into the AFC North division champion picture after a tough loss to the Jets last week. However, all the Steelers need to do to clinch the division is win their last two games, as they hold the tiebreakers over the Ravens should they finish with the same record. This does not seem like an overly demanding task, given that in the final two weeks of the season, Pittsburgh will face two teams that have a combined seven wins on the year. You can also bet that even on a short week, Mike Tomlin will have his squad fired up for a home game coming off a loss against a team they will potentially face in the playoffs. Big Ben Roethlisberger has not been overly impressive as of late, throwing for just 2 touchdowns in his last 3 games, and not recording a QB rating of over 100 since Week 11’s win over Oakland. In a game where Pittsburgh figures to be ahead, and playing in likely frigid conditions in Pittsburgh, Rashard Mendenhall has to be considered the main focus of the Steelers’ offensive plans this week. He is coming off a 100 yard rushing game last week against the Jets, and is now averaging 4.0 yards per carry on the season. Mendenhall has not really become a big part of the receiving game like some expected, but he has been consistent if not overwhelming on the ground this season, and if the Steelers are to have any postseason success, he needs to become the dominant force that many predicted he would soon be at the start of the season. In a game where the Steelers are such a heavy favorite, this seems like the perfect opportunity to see what Mendy can do.

Leave it to Carolina to potentially bungle their chance at the first overall pick by starting to win games. In a season where so much has gone wrong, it seems almost fitting. With that said, one has to be at least somewhat impressed at the way the Panthers have continued to play tough, despite their placement in the cellar of the league. With John Fox’s imminent departure from the club looming as the season draws to a close, one must commend the Panthers for their hard-fought second victory last week against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, this week’s opponent is a beast of a different nature, as they face a Pittsburgh squad at home, who is looking to unleash their frustrations after a loss to New York on someone. The bad news for Carolina is that ‘someone’ is them. Jimmy Clausen’s rookie year has not been near the same level as fellow rookies Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy, as he has battled inconsistencies and has swapped the starter role with Matt Moore on several occasions. Clausen has been so bad, in fact, that last week he threw for just his second touchdown the entire season, the other one coming back in Week 4. Last week also marked the first time in his career that Clausen has attained a QB rating of over 100, so perhaps there are some signs of improvement and hope for the future. Regardless, one has to imagine that the Panthers will be looking to scoop up a quarterback in the draft during the offseason. One positive for Carolina of late has been Jonathan Stewart, who finally seems to be healthy, and has re-claimed the starting role with Deangelo Williams on injured reserve. Stewart rushed for 137 yards last week, shedding any doubt that he and Mike Goodson were in a 50/50 split for carries. Former pro bowl receiver Steve Smith has been all but invisible thanks to the quarterback troubles for the Panthers, and in a season where he has not managed to reach 100 yards receiving in any game, one has to imagine that his days as a Panther may be numbered.

The Panthers do catch a break in this one, as it looks like Troy Polamalu will be sitting out to get healthy for the playoffs. Even without him though, Carolina’s offense is going to be in tough against arguably the best defensive unit in the league (although the Jets and Bears may have something to say about that). The strength of the Panthers’ offense (and ‘strength’ is maybe too generous a word) is the running game, but the Steelers are by far the best in the league in deterring the run. They have given up an incredible 63.4 rushing yards per game, and have only given up 5 touchdowns on the ground. To put that in perspective, the 2nd best defense against the run have given up 25 yards more per game, and 10 teams have given up more than double that amount. With this in mind, it could be tough going for Stewart and Goodson. This puts the pressure squarely on Clausen. The good news for him is that the Steelers are not as impressive through the air, giving up 228.4 passing yards per game, which ranks towards the bottom of the pack. The question is if Clausen can capitalize at all, as he has struggled against much worse defenses than Pittsburgh’s. Despite the Panthers’ terrible record, their pass defense has actually been rather stout. They have only allowed 203.4 yards per game in the air, good enough for the 9th best mark in the league. This means that Roethlisberger will have his work cut out for him, and may be reliant on Mendenhall to do most of the heavy lifting and get the Steelers into the red zone. Despite the solid defense, Mike Wallace and Hines Ward have been finding ways to get it done this year, especially Wallace, who has emerged into one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league. If the Panthers tire at all, look for Wallace to exploit that for some big gains.

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Panthers vs Steelers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Carolina Panthers +14.5
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -14.5

Game Total:

Over (-110)
37
Under (-110)

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Panthers vs Steelers Betting Predictions/Picks for Week 16

Spread Prediction (Top Play): The Panthers do not match up well against the Steelers, given their propensity to run, and the Steelers’ ability to completely shut down an opponent’s running game. With that said, Pittsburgh’s offense has failed to impress of late, scoring no more than 23 points in the past 4 weeks. Carolina’s defense is better than most people give it credit for, and the weather conditions in Pittsburgh are likely going to shift both teams into conservative offensive plans. There is not much question that the Steelers will win this game, but 14.5 is an awful big number to spot for an offense that doesn’t put up many huge numbers. When the Panthers are an underdog of more than 10.5 points, they are 4-1 ATS, and Pittsburgh is just 4-11 ATS when they are a home favorite of more than 10.5. This won’t be a pretty game to watch, especially if you are a Panthers fan, but it is definitely reasonable to believe that Carolina can keep the Steelers’ offensive output relatively low, even if they struggle to score too many points of their own. Take the points in this one, and maybe pour yourself a glass of eggnog to get through it.

Pick (Top Play): Panthers +14.5

Game Total Prediction: This is one of the lowest lines you will see all year, and with good reason. The Steelers have allowed the fewest points in the league (tied at 220 with Green Bay), and the Panthers have scored the least amount of points, at 183 (nobody else is close, Miami has scored 239, good enough for second least in the league). Following an ATS win, the Under is 9-3 in Carolina’s last 12, and 4-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 5. This game is shaping up to be a battle of the kickers, as the Steelers are dealing with several key injuries, and the Panthers just aren’t very good. Even with the low number, take the under.

Pick: Under 37

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