Carolina Panthers () vs Buffalo Bills ()Date : 08/09/2018
Time : 7:00 PM
Location : New Era Field
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Carolina Panthers vs Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are set to open the first week of preseason at New Era Field as they will welcome in the Carolina Panthers in what is a 7:00 PM scheduled kickoff. The Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills both made their respective wild-card games last season but both teams lost and will be looking to expand on what could be a successful year for them.
Carolina Panthers's Latest Performance :
The Carolina Panthers had a short drop off after their 15-1 Super Bowl appearance back in 2015 but Ron Rivera showed the NFL world why he is one of the best coaches in the league as he led this team to an 11-5 record with an appearance in the NFC Wildcard game. Rivera has one of the best young QBs in the league to work with as Cam Newton has been the face of this franchise ever since he was drafted back in 2011. Newton asserted his dominance as a dual-threat QB as the former Auburn Tiger threw for 3,300 yards and rushed for another 754 yards which were both team-highs. The running game was much improved in 2017 not only because of the healthy Jonathan Stewart who rushed for 680 yards and 6 TDs but also because of their 2017 first-round pick Christian McCaffery who picked up 435 yards on the ground and an additional 651 yards through the air. McCaffery wasn’t the only young guy who made an impact through the air as Cam Newton’s top target was 24-year-old Devin Funchess who had 840 yards and 8 TDs which were both team-highs. The Panthers will have to subtract Kelvin Benjamin from the equation but they should benefit from a full year of Greg Olsen as well as develop 2018 first-round pick DJ Moore into a solid downfield threat. Ron Rivera doesn’t only benefit from a good offense but he also has one of the best defensive players in the NFL on the team who is a heck of a player and an even better leader. Luke Kuechly was a do-it-all type of guy for the Panthers last year as the 7th year LB led the team in tackles (74) as well as in interceptions where he contributed 3. The linebacker corp isn’t only made up of only Kuechly but also veteran Thomas Davis (52 tackles) as well as 4th year LB Shaq Thompson who should benefit with another year of experience. The pass rush for the Panthers is another strong suit for Ron Rivera and this year should be no different as they return Mario Addison who had a team-high 11 sacks, Kawain Short who contributed 7.5 sacks as well as added Dontari Poe who was signed this past offseason on a 3-year 27-million dollar contract. The secondary will need to improve in 2018 if they want to repeat their success especially in the tough NFC South, expect James Bradberry to expand on a solid 2017 season where he was 2nd on the team in both tackles (66) and interceptions (2).
Buffalo Bills's Latest Performance :
The Buffalo Bills failed to make the playoffs in 17 consecutive seasons but the team in north New York was able to overcome their lengthy drought as they went 9-7 in 2017 where they eventually lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Wildcard game. The Bills were led by Tyrod Taylor last year where the dual-threat QB threw for 2799 yards and rushed for an additional 427 yards but the 29-year-old has now moved onto the Cleveland Browns. This leaves Sean McDermott with a void to fill but the 2nd-year coach does have a good amount of guys to choose from as the Bills acquired AJ McCarron from the Bengals, used a first-round pick on Josh Allen, and still have hope in last years draftee Nate Peterman. Whoever will be taking the starting snaps for Buffalo will be in good shape considering the fact that they have one of the best running backs in the league in LeSean McCoy. McCoy was able to crack the 1000-yard mark for the 6th time in his career as the former Pittsburgh Panther compiled 1138 yards and 6 TDs. Buffalo only had one pass catcher crack the 500-yard mark as they were inconsistent at the WR spot but luckily they return TE Charles Clay who was the team leader with 558 yards. Clay should have some reinforcements this year at the WR position as the Bills were able to acquire Kelvin Benjamin and Jeremy Kerley as well as bring in rookies Cam Phillips, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Robert Foster. The defense was solid last year especially in the secondary where they were led by some solid young guys. The safety tandem of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde is one of the most underrated duos in the NFL and it proved last year as they combined for 128 tackles, 26 pass deflections, and 10 interceptions. The linebacker group will need to be improved for the Bills if they want any shot of returning back to the postseason especially since they lose their team leader in Preston Brown who had a team-high 84 tackles. One of those guys expected to fill the void is first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds who had 108 tackles in his junior season at Virginia Tech. The pass rush should also be booted up for McDermott as they return both Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson who had 4 sacks each in 2017, throw in DT Star Lotulelei and Kyle Williams and we have one of the sneakiest pass rush units in the NFL.
How Carolina Panthers & Buffalo Bills Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Carolina went 9-7 ATS in 2017.
Buffalo went 9-6-1 ATS in 2017.
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
The Carolina Panthers ranked 12th in the NFL in PPG with 22.7 while the Buffalo Bills ranked 22nd with 18.9 PPG.
The Carolina Panthers ranked 11th in the NFL in PPG allowed as they sat at the 20.4 mark whereas the Bills ranked 18th while allowing 22.4 PPG.
Against The Spread Selection: Buffalo Bills -2.5
My reason for the pick :
The key to betting preseason isn’t always backing the better team but rather the team with more depth which is why I will be laying the small spread with the Buffalo Bills. The Panthers will play Cam Newton for all of 2 drives but the Bills have the advantage of having a solid 3 QB cycle as they will all be battling for the starting spot. Buffalo showed the ability to stiffen up on the defensive side of the ball last year hence their 10-3 Wildcard lost last year which gives me hope that they will be even more improved in 2018. Looking at the QB matchup I will have to back the Buffalo Bills and the -2.5 spread.