25* NFC GAME OF THE YEAR on Carolina Panthers -1

25* NFC GAME OF THE YEAR on Carolina Panthers -1

Carolina vs. Arizona, 10/06/2013 16:05 EDT, Score: 6 - 22

Point Spread: -1/-110 Carolina

Sportsbook: Pinnacle

Result: Loss

The Carolina Panthers are coming off their most lopsided win in the franchise's 19-year history. They beat the New York Giants 38-0 at home on September 22, limiting them to just 150 total yards while forcing three turnovers. That win gave them a ton of confidence heading into their bye week, and now they're refreshed and ready to go Sunday at Arizona.

While Carolina is just 1-2 this season, its two losses came by a combined six points to Seattle (7-12) and Buffalo (23-24). I really like the improvement I've seen from the defense, which ranks 3rd in the league in scoring, allowing just 12.0 points per game.

This defense should have its way with an Arizona offense that ranks 25th in scoring (17.2 points/game) and 26th in total offense (320.2 yards/game). The Cardinals have been held to a combined 20 points in their last two games, a 7-31 loss at New Orleans, and a 13-10 victory at Tampa Bay. That win over the Bucs was far from impressive, and a late comeback for the victory has the Cardinals getting more respect than they deserve from oddsmakers heading into this one.

Carolina's offense put up 402 total yards in the win over the Giants to get untracked. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and has averaged 125.3 yards on 6.0 per carry over his last four games since last season.

The Panthers have won seven of their last eight regular season meetings with the Cardinals with their only loss during this stretch coming in 2011. That was Cam Newton's rookie debut, and all he did was throw for 422 yards and two touchdowns. This Carolina team has come a long way since then, and I believe it is one of the most underrated teams in the league to this point.

I love looking at teams coming off a bye, especially when they are on the road and they are favored. In fact, road favorites off a bye are 39-14 (73.6%) ATS since 2003. Not only do I believe Carolina is the superior team in this one, I also love the extra rest and preparation it has coming into this contest.

Plays against home teams where the line is +3 to -3 (ARIZONA) - slow starting team - outscored by 5+ PPG in the first half, after scoring 14 points or less last game are 30-7 (81.1%) ATS over the last five seasons. The Cardinals are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game. Arizona is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games following a S.U. win. Bet the Panthers Sunday.

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