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Woeful Road Panthers are Slight Favorites to Win in the Dawg Pound

The 6-6 Carolina Panthers wrap up their two-game road swing by heading to FirstEnergy Stadium to collide with the 4-7-1 Cleveland Browns. This is the first trip to Cleveland for Carolina since 2010 (a game the Browns won 24-23) and the Panthers are just 1-5 SU and ATS in their six road contests this season, but they are 1.5-point favorites with the total opening at 47 points.

Shark Bites
  • Carolina is 1-5 SU and ATS in its six road games this season.
  • Cleveland leads the league in turnover margin at home this season (+1.5).
  • Carolina is on a four-game losing slide.

Carolina vs Cleveland Game Center

Panthers are a complete disaster on the road

Carolina limps into this Week 14 game, losers of its last four games by an average margin of 10.5 points, including a 52-21 trouncing by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Three of the matches during the losing slide came on the road where the Panthers are just 1-5 on the year, with the lone triumph coming at Lincoln Financial Field in a 21-17 win over Philadelphia. Conversely, at home, Carolina is 5-1 and looks like a completely different team. The Panthers fly out of the gate at Bank of American Stadium, scoring an average of 20.5 points in the first half, which is the third-most in the league, while surrendering just 9.7 points, the ninth-fewest.

On the road, though, it’s a different story as they give up the fifth-most points (17) in the first half while scoring the third-fewest (7.3). This deficit at the half has changed the game script and forced quarterback Cam Newton to throw more on the road, where he’s averaging 10 more pass attempts per game than at home. The 29-year-old has thrown 11 interceptions this year, eight of them coming on the road, and Carolina is averaging 67.7 fewer rushing yards per game away from home.

Browns turning a corner of late

Cleveland has won three of its last four games and in its last home game earned a 28-16 victory over Atlanta, its most points scored at FirstEnergy Stadium since a 31-28 loss to the New York Jets on October 30, 2016. Much of the success recently has been tied to the progression of Baker Mayfield and turning the ball over to running back Nick Chubb. Mayfield had an average quarterback rating of 29.76 in the first five weeks after being named the starter in Week 2. However, over the last four games, he has an average quarterback rating of 69.5 and has thrown 10 touchdowns to four interceptions.

Meanwhile, since Carlos Hyde was traded and Chubb took over as the lead back, he has averaged 109 all-purpose yards and has at least one touchdown in five of the six games that he has been the bell cow. The Browns are scoring the fourth-fewest points per game at home this season at just 19.5 but allow the 19th-most points per game against at 23. A strong area of Cleveland’s game at home is its defense making big plays, with a +1.5 turnover margin that is the best in the NFL, but they have a hard time getting off the field, allowing the third-most first downs per game, and surrender the most plays against per game.

Should you be on the UNDER this week?

Both teams’ offenses are having their difficulties with the Panthers struggling on the road and the Browns scuffling at home and Bovada has the total opening at 47 points. Carolina is averaging just 19.8 points per game on the road this season, while Cleveland is scoring 19.5 ppg at FirstEnergy Stadium. Additionally, the total has gone UNDER 47 points in four of Carolina’s six road games and only two of Cleveland’s home games have gone OVER 47 points with an average combined score of 42.5. Lastly, the Panthers tend to lean on their passing game more in away games and are averaging the third-most road passing touchdowns in the NFL at 2.3, but the Browns give up the ninth-fewest home passing touchdowns in the league at 1.3.

My take on Carolina vs Cleveland

I like the UNDER 47 points in this Week 14 match between Carolina and Cleveland. In addition to the points above, Cam Newton will likely be dropping back to pass frequently in this game and he has thrown eight of his 11 interceptions on the road, while the Browns have snatched the fifth-most interceptions at home this year, averaging 1.3 per game. Meanwhile, after Carolina’s loss to Tampa Bay last week, coach Ron Rivera said that Newton’s shoulder was feeling a little sore, which also doesn’t bode well. I think the UNDER should easily come through between the Browns and Panthers.