If you missed the news this morning, Cam Newton is back with the Carolina Panthers. That’s right, with Sam Darnold being hurt (and being bad), the Panthers decided to turn to their old friend and former franchise QB to save their season. Will it work? I don’t know! That said, I don’t think Cam should be seen as a downgrade from Sam Darnold, even at this point of his career when he’s not close to the same player he once was.
But none of that matters to me because I’m just here for the giggles. It is funny to me that with Cam’s return, the Panthers are paying his original replacement (Teddy Bridgewater, now in Denver), Bridgewater’s replacement (Sam Darnold) and now Darnold’s replacement, who is Cam Newton — the player they initially replaced.
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That’s a lot of cap space to end up with the same player you originally had. Also, it’s unlikely Cam will play this weekend, which means his first start with the Panthers is likely to come next week against Washington. The same Washington coached by … Cam’s former coach in Carolina, Ron Rivera.
OK, let’s make some money before the Panthers spend it on another QB.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
🏈 Ravens at Dolphins, 8:20 p.m. | TV: FOX
The Pick: Lamar Jackson Under 239.5 yards passing (+100): This is not a play based on the narrative of Lamar Jackson not being a great passer, as he’s done an excellent job of putting that one to bed this season. Entering the night, Jackson is averaging a career-best yards per completion (12.8) and yards per game (276.1). But, an interesting aspect of Lamar’s performances is that after being solid against man coverage early in his career, he’s struggled against it since the start of last season.
Since the beginning of 2020, Lamar has a passer rating of 75.7 against man coverage and a completion rate of 55.2% while averaging 6.22 yards per attempt. Those are significant drop-offs compared to his numbers against zones, where his passer rating is 95.2, his completion rate is 68.2% and he averages 8.68 yards per attempt.
So far this season, the Dolphins have been in man coverage on 49.1% of their defensive snaps, which is far and away the highest frequency in the NFL. Baltimore is second at 41.1%.
Also, quarterbacks can run more effectively against man coverage because defensive backs often have to turn their backs to the QB, so I can see Lamar doing a lot more damage on the ground tonight than usual. Add in a game script that could easily see the Ravens with a commanding lead, and I’m just not sure how much Baltimore will feel the need to air it out tonight.
Key Trend: Lamar Jackson’s YPA drops from 8.68 against zone defenses to 6.22 against man.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you’re looking for a more traditional play, SportsLine’s Mike Tierney is 26-13-1 ATS in his last 40 plays involving the Ravens.
💰 The Picks
Raptors at Sixers, 7 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Under 210.5 (-110) — It could be an ugly game in Philadelphia tonight. The Sixers will be without Joel Embiid yet again, as well as Matisse Thybulle. There’s a chance both Tobias Harris and Seth Curry return, but based on the action surrounding the game, most sharps don’t seem to believe that to be the case. On the Toronto side of things, the Raptors will likely be without Pascal Siakam and Khem Birch. Siakam is the bigger absence as the Raptors haven’t shown much ability to get consistent offense without him.
All of which makes the under far more appealing to me than anything else. Because even with those players, these are the two slowest-moving offenses in the NBA, as Toronto ranks 29th in pace while Philadelphia is 30th. So it’s two teams moving slowly and probably without a lot of their biggest offensive weapons.
Key Trend: The under is 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings.
🏈 College Football
North Carolina at Pitt, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: North Carolina +6.5 (-110) — I’m happy that I could get to this line earlier when North Carolina was still at +7, but I’m still comfortable with the Tar Heels at +6.5. Pitt has been the better team of the two over the season, but I worry about some of the Panthers defensive performances against adequate offensive teams like they’ll be facing tonight. Pitt has a defensive success rate of 61.8% on the season and has allowed 1.56 points per drive. However, against explosive offenses like Tennessee, Western Michigan and Miami, Pitt had a success rate of only 56% and allowed 2.64 points per drive. This North Carolina offense is more dangerous than any other team the Panthers have faced.
Of course, North Carolina’s defense is terrible, which is why North Carolina is such a heavy dog in this spot. Still, it’s a short week for both teams, and it’s the second game that will be played on some rough Heinz Field turf in four days. Things might get a little weird! It’s been a long-standing principle that you take the dog when things have a chance to get weird in an ACC game.
Key Trend: Pitt is 11-23-1 ATS in its last 35 games as a home favorite.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Both the SportsLine Projection Model and SportsLine expert John Bollman are in agreement on a live dog in the NHL tonight, but who is it?
🏀 Hardwood Parlay
Again, it’s still too early in the season for me to feel comfortable betting single games, but it’s never too early to take a shot on parlays. This one pays +107.
- Northern Iowa (-230)
- Providence (-1100)
- Arizona State (-475)
- Washington (-1100)