Taking the biggest underdog of the week and detailing the game plan that will give them a shot at victory.
Panthers (+12.5) vs. Ravens
Everybody knows it’s always more fun to root for the underdog. The biggest underdog this week is the Carolina Panthers, who are +12.5 against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. While it might be the longest shot on the board, we do see a path for Carolina to win this game.
So far this year, the Panthers have been one of the most boring teams to watch, having trading star running back Christian McCaffery as they attempt to rebuild their franchise. In the absence of CMC, a diamond in the rough has been found; D’Onta Foreman. There is a reason people are saying he plays like Derrick Henry. While far from a king, the five-year veteran has punished opposing defenses, putting up 118+ rushing yards in three of his last four games. Most notably a 118 yard performance against Tampa Bay’s run defense that held Kenneth Walker to just 17 yards last week. Baltimore’s run defense is also no joke, ranking third-best in the league for rushing yards allowed per game.
The passing game just has not been doing it for Carolina this season, ranking 28th in passing yards per game with subpar P.J Walker at the helm. D.J Moore has been struggling as well, totaling more yards on his crazy hail mary catch than he has in the last two weeks combined. On the offensive side, if the Panthers want any shot at winning it has to come from a ground-and-pound style of play with play action sprinkled throughout.
On the defensive side, it is all going to be about stopping Lamar Jackson. The former MVP has returned to form this season, dominating opponents on the ground on pace for another 1,000 yard rushing season.
Despite being ranked 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, the Carolina defense has some studs that have the ability to lock up the run game if they want to have a chance at beating Baltimore. Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson are the two pillars of this defense, with 122 combined tackles and 16 combined TFLs.
The P.J Walker experiment appears to be over in Carolina, with Baker Mayfeild set to get the start Sunday. The former first overall pick has struggled this season but seemed to be getting back on track, playing the best game of his season in week 9 against Cincinnati. Don’t forget that Baker is only two years removed from a 26 touchdown and 8 interception season. He also defeated the Ravens 24-22 last December, his most recent matchup with Baltimore. Baker may be the spark that this team needs to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season.