Panthers vs. Chiefs Odds & Picks: Bet Carolina In Christian McCaffrey’s Return
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey
Panthers vs. Chiefs Odds
Carolina has stayed competitive without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. Will his return keep the Panthers competitive on the road against the defending Super Bowl Champions?
The key injury concern for the Panthers is linebacker Jeremy Chinn.
The second-round Southern Illinois product is the reigning NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month. In four games, he’s tallied 30 total tackles, four passes defended and an interception. He was also first among all rookies in tackles.
Meanwhile, Carolina is hopeful that second-round rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) can return after missing the past three games. The Panthers will also be without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who left Week 7 with a calf injury and missed the Panthers’ Week 8 loss to Atlanta.
Carolina has been able to maintain a high level of offensive efficiency, even in McCaffrey’s absence. The Panthers rank 11th in both run and pass offense DVOA per Football Outsiders. They have also won the turnover battle, with a +2 turnover margin on the season, ranking 11th-best in the league.
Teddy Bridgewater has seen career-best success in passing yardage, ranking eighth among all quarterbacks (2,107 yards). His 8.2 yards per attempt is sixth-best at the position as well.
Bridgewater benefits from two major aspects of the Carolina passing game. First, he is extremely accurate, boasting a 77.6% true completion rate. Second, he has one of the most explosive group of receivers in the league.
Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore both rank among the top seven wide receivers in receiving yardage. Moore is 10th in yards after catch and ninth in deep targets, while Anderson sixth in receptions and yards per route run.
Carolina has also finally figured out how to properly utilize the versatile Curtis Samuel, who has increased his fantasy points per game in each of the past four games.
The key to the Panthers keeping this game competitive is McCaffrey. The versatile running back dominates the defensive focus and provides time for Bridgewater off play-action passes. In his only fully healthy game this season, he totaled 135 total yards and two touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs received good news about defensive end Chris Jones on Saturday:
Right tackle Mitch Schwartz (back) and Sammy Watkins (hamstring) have been ruled out, the former of whom will miss his third straight game.
The Chiefs (7-1) are massive 10-point home favorites and are hoping to extend their three-game winning streak. They’re tied for second among all teams at 31.6 points per game and rank first overall in offensive DVOA, including first overall in passing efficiency.
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranks third in rushing yards (572) and sixth at the position in receiving yards (204). The addition of veteran Le’Veon Bell gives Kansas City the ability to attack a Carolina run-defense that is only the 26th-most efficient unit in the league. Both Edwards-Helaire and Bell can find success as receivers, especially going against a Carolina team that has allowed a league-high 58 receptions to opposing RBs.
Kansas City’s passing prowess will find a surprising test against Carolina’s zone defense. The Panthers have allowed only four receiving touchdowns to opposing wideouts all season. Regardless, Patrick Mahomes should find opportunities to connect with explosive wideouts Tyreek Hill (eight total touchdowns) and Mecole Hardman (overall fantasy WR7 in Week 8).
Travis Kelce has also reclaimed his place as the league’s premier tight end. He currently ranks first at the position in each of the following categories:
- Targets (67)
- Air yards (505)
- Receptions (48)
- Receiving yards (610)
- Red zone targets (12)
- Touchdowns (six)
Carolina, however, represents a significant challenge for Kelce. The Panthers have allowed the seventh-fewest receiving yards to opposing tight ends and the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game.
The Chiefs defense has allowed the third-fewest points per game (19.1), but showed vulnerability against a balanced Las Vegas offense in their Week 5 home loss to the Raiders.
You’ve probably seen this Bridgewater stat, but it’s worth mentioning again (per our Action Labs data):
Bridgewater is 21-5 against the spread as a road underdog, spanning three different teams. He uses his accuracy and ability to avoid turnovers to keep games close.
I grabbed this line at Carolina +12.5 as soon as it was posted, but still like it at +10.5 (shop real-time lines here).
Kansas City will find success running the football, but Carolina’s offensive playmakers are a direct reflection of Las Vegas. The accurate Bridgewater, with explosive wideouts and a workhorse running back returning, should find a way to cover this double-digit spread.
PICK: Panthers +10.5