The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) and Carolina Panthers (0-2) are set to square off in Week 3 of the National Football League regular season. Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (ET) at Bank of America Stadium and will be televised on CBS.
Oddsmakers are starting to believe in the talents of Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton, sending the winless team out as 3 ½-point home favorites, while the total has already been bet up from 40 to 42. It’s quite a significant step up in the betting odds for a franchise that has tallied a 2-16 SU record since the start of the 2010 campaign.
The Panthers were 6 ½-point road underdogs against the Arizona Cardinals and 10 ½-point home underdogs in Week 2 versus the Green Bay Packers. Carolina posted a 1-2 ATS mark as a home favorite last year, losing the first two contests in straight-up fashion before coming away with a 19-12 win over the Cardinals as a 2 ½-point favorite in Week 15.
Newton continues to be a national headline, ranking second in the league with 854 passing yards in his first two weeks. The results are truly shocking due to the signal caller’s 42.1 percent completion percentage in four preseason games.
The problem now lies in trying to get a running game going that is ranked 29th in the league, averaging just 72.5 yards per game. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams were a perceived strength coming into the season, but the talented duo has been kept under wraps.
Carolina managed to rush for 71 yards in its 30-23 loss to the Packers, but the backfield tandem contributed only 18 yards on 11 carries.
Bettors will find that the Panthers are 1-8 ATS in their last nine September games and the ‘over’ is 5-4 in those contests.
Jacksonville was never really in its 32-9 loss to the New York Jets as 9-point road underdogs, failing to score a point after a 55-yard field goal from Josh Scobee with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars spent a considerable amount of time during the offseason tightening up their pass defense, which ranks 14th in the league, surrendering 215.5 passing yards a game. It represents nearly a 35-yard improvement from last year’s results (250.2), but will face its most difficult test of the early 2011 campaign this week.
Offensively, the big question remains the quarterback position, as Luke McCown was pulled after throwing four interceptions against the Jets. He had not thrown more than two in his previous eight starts in the NFL.
The door is now wide open for Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, as he completed five of six passes.
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to be the focal point offensively, gaining 88 yards on 18 carries against one of the best defensive units in the league. The 26-year-old is averaging 92.5 yards per game, good enough to rank eighth in the league and signals that he’s fully recovered from last year’s knee injury that sidelined him in the final two weeks.
Jacksonville has covered three of the last four meetings and the ‘over’ is 6-1 in its last seven games when playing as a road underdog of 3½ to 7 points.
The early forecast for Charlotte this Sunday looks fine with afternoon highs in the mid-70s and only a 10 percent chance of rain.