NFL Week 18 Picks: Expert Bet for Panthers vs Saints, Gus Edwards Player Prop
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard (left), Sam Darnold (right).
NFL Odds & Picks
Chris Raybon: The Panthers are still undervalued in the market based on how well they’re playing on offense since Sam Darnold took over at quarterback.
Here is where Darnold ranks among 43 quarterbacks with at least 150 dropbacks this season:
- Completion Percentage: 3rd (71.3%)
- Completion Percentage Over Expected: 1st (+7.5%)
- EPA/Play: 3rd (0.240)
- Success Rate: 8th (50.3%)
And here’s where the Panthers’ run game ranks among the league’s 32 teams since Christian McCaffrey was traded after Week 6:
- Rushing Yards Per Game: 5th (149.7)
- Rush TDs Per Game: 4th (1.30)
- Rush EPA/Play: 7th (0.022)
- Yards Per Carry: 10th (4.71)
- Early Down Rush Success Rate: 12th (39.5%)
New Orleans’ calling card during its three-game winning streak has been its defense, but it hasn’t topped 21 points in any of those wins. Meanwhile, Carolina’s offense has rattled off 970 total yards and 61 points in the past two weeks alone, and is averaging 26.0 points per game in Darnold’s five starts.
The Saints also rank 19th in DVOA against the run, which doesn’t bode well when facing a Panthers offense that has piled up 160-plus rushing yards in six of their past 10 games, including three efforts of 220-plus.
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers’ banged up secondary won’t hurt them as much against the Saints’ low-volume pass offense, as it did against Tom Brady last week. Andy Dalton hasn’t cracked 30 pass attempts since Week 8 and has topped 260 passing yards just once this season.
The Saints have been hot, covering in two straight and four of their last six, but according to our Action Labs data, it has been profitable to fade teams in this spot. Since 2004, divisional home favorites that have covered in at least four of their past six games are just 49-76-6 (39%) ATS.
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Chris Raybon: John Harbaugh made it known he thought Edwards should have gotten more opportunities last week. Now, lead back J.K. Dobbins is getting a head start on the playoffs and sitting out this week.
Even against a good run defense, Edwards should get here on volume alone. Excluding kneel-downs, Greg Roman has dialed up a designed rush attempt on 53% of Baltimore’s plays over the past four weeks with Lamar Jackson out, and the team is averaging 33.0 carries for 179.3 rushing yards over that span.
Edwards has posted at least 52 rushing yards in six of his eight games this season, including three of the past four with Dobbins active. Based on Dobbins’ usage over the past four weeks, his absence opens up over 14 carries. Edwards was averaging only 8.5 carries per game over that span but has carried 16 times on two occasions, both of which came with Dobbins out.