Monday Night Football in Week 15 is a showdown between two of last year’s playoff teams who’ve had lackluster follow up seasons and are in real danger of not making the playoffs. The Panthers are 5-8 this year, but had a win last week against San Diego and will try to ride that into another W against the 7-5-1 Washington team. Sports Interaction’s NFL betting odds have Washington as the -6.5 favorites.
Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Redskins
Point spread: Washington -6.5
Date: Monday, December 19, 2016/p>
Location: FedExField, Hyattsville, MD
For Washington, this really is a must-win. They currently sit at seventh place in the NFC, which is not terrible. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants are ahead of them in the standings. With that middling 7-5-1 record, they are just barely outside of playoff contention right now, so a win here will be crucial for their chances.
After suffering through a two game losing streak, to the Cowboys and to the Cardinals, Washington got their groove back last week when they handily beat the Philly Eagles 27-22, thanks to a remarkable defensive showing. QB Kirk Cousins did a decent job, completing 14-of-21 passing for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, but he’ll have to do better to lead his team to a playoff berth. Cousins averages over 300 yards per game, making him second in the leauge in passing yards per game.
The biggest issue facing Washington is their lackluster defense, which has allowed over 24 points per game. Expect Kirk Cousins to have a good game, and his O-line to show up big as well, allowing Cousins to find DeSean Jackson, who is capable of making huge plays.
The big story for this Monday Night matchup is of course, Josh Norman. The Panthers let him go in the offseason, resulting in him landing in Washington where he’s played a big part in their defense. And the Panthers defense that he left behind has suffered the consequences of that move. Will Norman play his best game of the season, revenge-style, against his old teammates? The odds on this game seem to think so.
To pull off a win here, the Panthers are going to need a huge effort from their key players. If they lose this one, they can pretty much write the rest of their season off. Incredible that at this time last year, they were undefeated. Last year they had one of the best offenses in the league, and this year they rank 13th in points per game with 23.9 and 19th in total yards per game with 340.3. Although they have a weak secondary, their run defense has been quite good, ranking fifth in the NFL in total rushing yards allowed per game, only allowing 90.2 per game.
Despite last week’s win against the Chargers, Cam Newton looks like a shadow of his 2015 self. He’s played 12 games and has completed only 53% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and nine picks. The MNF game against Washington will be his last chance this season to play in front of a prime time audience and show that he isn’t just a flash in the pan.
Panthers vs. Redskins Prediction