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LA Rams vs. Carolina,
09/08/2019 13:00 EDT,
Score: 30 - 27
Point Spread: +2/-105 Carolina
8* Carolina (1:00 ET): All the key metrics indicate that the Panthers will be an improved team in 2019. Ironically, it was at this time last year, we were proclaiming they were set to regress. The 2017 team that made the playoffs (went 11-5 SU overall) did so on the strength of a 7-2 record in one-score games and that was unsustainable. Now, for awhile there, our calls for regression looked foolish as the Panthers started last year 6-2. But, it turned out we were right as they lost their next seven games (five of them by 7 pts or less) and missed the playoffs altogether. Now, for many of the same reasons we said they'd regress last year, we believe they'll improve this year. Under HC Ron Rivera, the Panthers have a habit of having bounce back years w/ their record in "close games" almost being like a yo-yo year to year.
Sean McVay has transformed the Rams into one of the league's real powerhouses the last two seasons. They made it all the way to the Super Bowl last year, but chose a most inopportune time to have their worst offensive game under McVay. The Patriots held them to 260 total yards and three points in an ugly game. What New England did that day will be studied and borrowed by all future Rams' opponents. One thing we know is certain and that's LA won't be repeating LY's 7-1 record in close games (sound familiar?), which happened to be a league best. It will also be challenging to match LY's +11 turnover differential as well.
So, with one team set to improve and the other set to regress, our call on this one is pretty easy. Cam Newton wasn't healthy down the stretch for the Panthers last season and while he sustained a minor injury in the preseason, all indications are that he's ready to roll here in Week 1. Todd Gurley was basically M.I.A. in the Super Bowl for the Rams and we think he's a big question mark heading into this season. The loser of the previous year's Super Bowl has gone 3-16 ATS in Week 1 the L19 seasons as there's often a "hangover effect" from losing that big game. Newton is 14-5 ATS as an underdog since 2015, including a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times he's gotten points at home. Teams that missed the playoffs and had a losing ATS record the previous year (Carolina was 7-9 ATS) are 30-15-1 ATS the L10 years in Week 1 if matched up w/ a playoff team. 8* Carolina