The Carolina Panthers are playing “Forrest Gump” football through the first six weeks of the season. Their schedule is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get?
One week, Carolina is running up the score and shutting out the Giants. The next, it’s scrounging for points against Arizona. And then, it’s following that with an all-out attack on the Vikings. All of which has made the Panthers perhaps the toughest NFL team to handicap.
When it comes to Carolina’s odds, oddsmakers might as well throw a random key number - 3, 6, 7, 10 - against the wall and see if it sticks. And they may have done just that by setting the Panthers as 6-point home favorites against the St. Louis Rams Sunday.
St. Louis, to a lesser extent, is a similar breed of puzzlement when it comes to its odds. The Rams are riding high off a 38-13 upset over Houston last weekend and, much like Carolina, have shown little consistency through the first third of the schedule. But are they really six points worse than the Panthers Sunday?
Just like blindly picking chocolates, those betting Carolina won’t know if they bit into a caramel-filled, hazelnut bonbon or one of those disgusting strawberry mush duds until Sunday afternoon.
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins (-1, 50)
At first glance, this line seems to be on the wrong side of the fence with Washington giving one point at home to the Bears. The Redskins fell to 1-4 with a loss to Dallas Sunday night, however, looking beyond the score uncovers some truths about that game.
Without the exceptional kick return play of Dwyane Harris, who scored on a punt return and gave the Cowboys great field position for another strike, and a costly fumble by Robert Griffin III on his own 3-yard line, this game would have been much closer.
Washington did a good job locking down Dallas’ weapons and was rolling on offense behind RB Alfred Morris and Griffin, who had his best game of the season with an additional 77 yards rushing. An interception in the end zone snuffed out a late push from the Skins.
Chicago, on the other hand, rolled the winless Giants Thursday night. Apparently, kicking New York while its down doesn’t mean much to oddsmakers. This tight spread could be back and forth before kickoff.
Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Wolverines (-7.5, 67)
Any team that gives up 42 points to Michigan State has some defensive issues. The Hoosiers gave up more than 40 to the Spartans last weekend and have watched three opponents top the 40-point plateau on the scoreboard this season.
Indiana is in the Big House this weekend taking on a Michigan team, which does have its flaws. Scoring the football, however, is not one of them. The Wolverines are averaging 39 points per game - 42.5 at home. Edging that near-TD spread doesn't look to be too much of a chore for a Michigan team looking to erase an OT loss in Happy Valley last Saturday.
Michigan is 5-1 ATS in its last six games in Ann Arbor while IU is 1-4 ATS