Week 10 of the NFL season gets started in style with a primetime matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is set for 8:20 EST on Thursday, November 8, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The game can be seen on both Fox and the NFL Network.
The Steelers have opened the week as 4-point favorites at home with an over/under of 51 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 10 NFL odds.
The Steelers are coming off a huge road win over the Ravens last week. It was Pittsburgh’s fourth win in a row, leaving little doubt that they have shaken off a slow start to the season and are legitimate contenders in the AFC. Of course, the Steelers are still working on getting some separation at the top of the AFC North. At 5-2-1 on the season, they have a slim lead over the 5-3 Bengals. The Ravens also can’t be counted out in that division just yet.
Pittsburgh’s schedule the second half of the season also features five games against teams with winning records. The Steelers also hit the road for three of their next four games after Thursday’s home date with the Panthers. They need to hold serve at home this week because their remaining home games are against the Patriots, Saints, and Bengals, so nothing will come easy for them down the stretch.
The Panthers are also one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. Carolina has won three in a row and five of their last six. However, that’s still only good enough for second place in the NFC South behind the Saints. The Panthers are starting to look like a bonafide playoff team and Super Bowl contender. But they’re also facing an uphill battle toward winning the division and avoiding having to play three playoff games on the road to reach the Super Bowl.
Carolina’s remaining schedule is no picnic either. This week begins a stretch in which the Panthers play four of their next five games on the road. Keep in mind that the Panthers will play the Saints twice in the final three weeks of the season. That means Carolina has to stay within striking distance of New Orleans by the time they reach Week 15, so every game between now and then matters.
Thursday night games this season have largely been lopsided affairs. However, this one has a chance to be different. Both of these teams are coming in with a lot of confidence and momentum, and both need to keep winning. To me, that translates to a close game. I can’t swallow more than a field goal, so I’ll take my chances with the Panthers at least beating the spread.
The Pittsburgh offense has definitely got the ball rolling during their four-game winning streak. Even if they weren’t super-efficient last week, they were eventually able to rack up nearly 400 yards and 23 points against the best defense in the NFL. Obviously, the Carolina defense isn’t likely to pose as much of a challenge as Baltimore’s defense did last week, especially on a short week.
To be fair, the Panthers are solid defensively. Despite giving up 28 points to Tampa Bay last week, they held the Bucs to around 300 yards of total offense while forcing two turnovers. The Carolina defense was also able to take Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson out of the picture. Those two only combined for three catches and 48 yards. That’s a signal that the Panthers may be able to contain Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster this week. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. But slowing down those two just a little will help prevent the Steelers from pulling away.
On the other side of the ball, the Carolina offense deserves some respect after putting up 42 points last week. Christian McCaffrey continues to be a force both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. Greg Olsen has also come back strong from injury to give the Panthers a bonafide red zone threat, as he’s scored a touchdown in three straight weeks. Even with some notable limitations, the Panthers have managed to score over 30 points in four of their last six games, indicating that they may be able to keep up in a shootout.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the Steelers have held opposing teams to 21 points or less during their four-game winning streak. They’ve also done a good job of holding teams under 100 yards rushing in all four of those games. Doing the same would certainly boost their chances of winning comfortably on Thursday night. However, even against teams that can defend the run, Cam Newton is the ultimate equalizer, as he gives the Carolina offense a dimension that other teams lack.
All things considered, both teams present significant challenges for the other. In fact, both teams are probably capable of pulling away from the other and winning comfortably. However, it’s difficult to choose what team is more likely to do that. For me, the safer pick is taking the underdog and the points, especially with the spread greater than a field goal. I’ll take my chances with the Panthers.