The Carolina Panthers will try to bounce back from last week’s loss when they face another road test against the Detroit Lions in Week 11. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 18, at Ford Field in Detroit. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
The Panthers opened the week favored by 3.5 points. However, that line has increased slightly with Carolina now listed as 4-point favorites on the road. The over/under is set at 51. 5 points. Make sure you check out a full list of the Week 11 NFL odds.
Carolina saw their three-game winning streak come to an end last Thursday in spectacular fashion. They were the victims of a 52-21 thrashing at the hands of the Steelers. That game dropped them to 6-3, putting them two full games behind New Orleans in the NFC South. With the way the Saints have played this year, that lead must feel close to insurmountable for the Panthers, even with two head-to-head games against New Orleans left on their schedule.
The good news is that the Panthers own the top wild-card spot in the NFC. They also have a somewhat comfortable cushion with regard to the wild-card race. That being said, Carolina can’t afford to see one loss turn into two losses. Remember, they play the Saints twice in the last three weeks of the season, so the Panthers have to rack up the wins now so those aren’t must-win games just to reach the playoffs.
Detroit, on the other hand, is already looking ahead toward next season. The Lions have dropped three games in a row, all by double-digit margins. The Lions are currently 3-6 and don’t appear to be a factor in the playoff race. They’d almost have to win the rest of their games to have any chance of reaching the postseason.
That being said, the Lions still aren’t a team that should be overlooked, especially at home. Keep in mind that Detroit has home wins over both the Patriots and Packers this season. On their day, they’re more than capable of giving good teams a difficult game.
I’m not going to put much stock in Carolina’s loss last week. They ran into a buzzsaw in Pittsburgh on a short week, so it’s not a huge surprise that they got blown out. I think it’ll be business as usual for the Panthers this week. They’re undoubtedly the better team, and I think an angry Carolina team will get back on track and have no problem covering the 4-point spread on the road.
Rather quietly, Cam Newton is having one of the best seasons of his career. The way the Panthers are utilizing running back Christian McCaffrey, not to mention Newton’s abilities as a runner, are drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses. That has created openings for Newton to make throws. The Carolina offense is also using creative ways to use all of their weapons, which is helping keep teams off balance despite the Panthers lacking a downfield passing attack.
At the moment, the Lions aren’t particularly good at stopping the run or the pass. Outside of a few talented players along the defensive line, there’s nothing particularly intimidating about the Detroit defense. To be fair, the Panthers didn’t do a great job of protecting Newton last week. But Newton has only been sacked 17 times in nine games, so it might take an extraordinary effort from the Detroit pass rush to disrupt Carolina’s offense and keep the Panthers contained for four quarters.
The Lions also have a number of problems on the other side of the ball. It starts with the offensive line, which has allowed Matthew Stafford to be sacked 19 times during their three-game losing streak. That includes 10 sacks a couple weeks ago against the Vikings and six more last week against the Bears. The Carolina pass rush may not be elite, but the Panthers have enough talent up front to take advantage of a porous offensive line.
Carolina’s biggest weakness on defense is their secondary. However, the Lions may not be able to take advantage of that. Stafford no longer has Golden Tate at his disposal after he was traded to the Eagles. Marvin Jones is also questionable after picking up a knee injury last week. That could limit Stafford’s options down the field to just Kenny Golladay. There’s a chance the Detroit offense will be largely limited to short passes to Theo Riddick and Kerryon Johnson, which would make them much easier to defend, especially against Carolina’s solid front-7.
To be honest, most of Detroit’s points over the last three weeks have come in garbage time, and even then it wasn’t enough to keep them close. I can see a similar storyline playing out this week. The problems that plagued Carolina last week against the Steelers probably won’t be replicated by the Lions. Even as a road favorite, I feel good about the Panthers covering the 4-point spread.