Panthers vs. Washington Odds & Picks: How To Factor Dwayne Haskins Into Betting Sunday
Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: J.D. McKissic.
- The Washington Football Team looks to keep pace atop the NFC East when it takes on the Carolina Panthers in Week 16.
- Even with Dwayne Haskins set to start at quarterback, Mike Vitanza sees plenty of value on Washington.
- Read Vitanza's full betting analysis for Sunday's game and see his pick below.
Panthers vs. Washington Odds
|Odds as of Saturday night and via PointsBet, where you can bet $20 on the Panthers or Football Team to win $125 if they score.|
The Carolina Panthers (4-10) are losers of three straight and have already been eliminated from playoff contention. Despite big performances from top skill players like D.J. Moore and Mike Davis over the past few weeks, the Panthers’ inability to close games has cost them a chance at the playoffs.
The Washington Football Team (6-8), meanwhile, find themselves in first place in the NFC East. They need a big victory to keep pace ahead of the Cowboys and Giants and hold onto the narrow one-game lead in the division.
Can Washington take care of business at home and further solidify its playoff standing heading into Week 17?
Teddy Bridgewater has struggled to get anything significant going through the air over his past two starts. Despite a 68% completion percentage, he’s averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt and has not been able to find the end zone through the air.
He has managed to convert two rushing scores during that time, something that has helped keep those games close, but overall, the Panthers’ pass attack has been terribly inefficient in the red zone.
It will be difficult to improve on that this week against a Football Team defense that ranks second in the NFL with a -15.8% mark in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA. Their 80.2 PFF Pass Rush grade also ranks sixth-best in the league (per Pro Football Focus), another factor that will likely hinder any success the Panthers hope to have through the air.
Meanwhile, running back Christian McCaffrey (thigh) is doubtful to play in Week 16, so Mike Davis will take CMC’s place and remain the starter.
Davis has had success at times, but he has been wildly inconsistent game-to-game. He’ll need to have a near-ceiling performance against Washington’s 13th-ranked rush DVOA in this one if the Panthers want to keep this close.
In seven road games this season, Davis is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and has yet to score a rushing touchdown.
Washington Football Team
Quarterback Alex Smith (calf) is questionable to play after practicing in full on Friday. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Smith is considered “50/50” to play on Sunday, but he did take the majority of first-team reps in Friday’s practice.
Wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) is doubtful and not expected to play while running back Antonio Gibson (toe) is questionable but is expected to play, per reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
If Smith is unable to go, Dwayne Haskins will get another start at quarterback this week. Haskins has struggled to make any big plays since taking over for Smith two weeks ago, passing for just 346 yards on a measly 5.1 yards/attempt.
His primary check-down targets — tight end Logan Thomas and running back J.D. McKissic — have been the main beneficiaries. Each should have plenty of opportunities against a Panthers defense that’s struggled in nearly all aspects of the game. Entering Week 16, they rank 29th in the NFL with a 51.3 PFF defense rating, 26th with a 45.1 rush defense rating and 28th with a 40.2 pass coverage rating.
The expected return of Gibson would also prove to be a huge boost for this offense. While McKissic has filled in admirably over the past two weeks, averaging 97 yards from scrimmage per game, Gibson is a true game-changer.
Prior to getting hurt, Gibson had more than 300 yards from scrimmage — including six touchdowns — over his past three games. Even despite missing the past three weeks due to injury, he’s on pace for over 1,000 scrimmage yards in his rookie season.
Regardless of who gets the start, the Football Team’s running game will have a distinct advantage against a Panthers defense that has struggled to contain the run this season.
Despite uncertainty at quarterback, the Football Team holds comfortable advantages against nearly all aspects of the Panthers defense. If the Football Team has proven anything all season, it’s that they can find ways to get it done with whoever is healthy and on the field.
While Smith would be a small upgrade to Haskins, the offensive key in this one will be the Football Team’s ability to move to the ball via the run and check-down — something they’ve had success with under both signal-callers this season. Using that game plan, they should be able to control the clock on offense and limit the Panthers’ offensive opportunities with their stifling defense.
Big money has drawn the same conclusion: According to our public betting data, 67% of tickets and 87% of the money is on Washington as of Saturday night.
I’m confidently betting the Football Team to cover and am comfortable taking them all the way up to -2.5.
Pick: Washington -1