Carolina lost ground to the New Orleans Saints on their Week 5 bye – but the Panthers can return the favour with the Saints enjoying the week off as they visit Washington on Sunday afternoon. Not only is Carolina well-rested following its wild 33-31 win over the Giants in Week 4, but help could be on the way, as All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen has recovered from his early-season foot injury and is expected to return to the lineup Sunday.
NFL Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Being a slight home favourite has appealed to Washington, which comes into this one having covered three consecutive home spreads between -1 and -3 after losing its previous six games in that situation. The same can’t be said for Washington’s recent history with the NFC South, with Sunday’s hosts having gone just 2-9 SU in its last 11 games vs. the division. On the flip side, Carolina is a red-hot 10-2 SU in its past 12 games against NFC East opponents.
It’s hard to handicap Washington from a totals perspective. It has gone over in back-to-back games – with an average of 55 points scored – but saw each of its previous five games fail to reach the 40-point plateau. Things have been a little clearer for the Panthers, who have gone over in four of their past five games, surpassing the total by at least eight points in each one. The teams have cashed the under in each of their past four meetings in Washington.
The return of Olsen, who suffered the injury in Carolina’s Week 1 victory over Dallas, should invigorate a moribund passing game that is averaging just 211 yards per game. Olsen is coming off three straight seasons of at least 77 receptions and 1,000 yards, and his presence as Cam Newton’s safety valve should also help the Panthers improve their third-down conversion rate, which presently sits at 38.8 percent – good for 20th in the league.
Oh, the inconsistency. Washington has been one of the more frustrating betting options through its first four games, beating the Arizona Cardinals (Week 1) and Green Bay Packers (Week 3) by a combined score of 55-23 while falling to the Indianapolis Colts (Week 2) and New Orleans Saints (Week 5) by a cumulative tally of 64-28. The passing game is in dire need of a boost, with quarterback Alex Smith having thrown just four touchdown passes through four games.