P.J. Walker Taking Over for Panthers vs Rams: How Big a Downgrade From Baker Mayfield Is He?

P.J. Walker Taking Over for Panthers vs Rams: How Big a Downgrade From Baker Mayfield Is He? article feature image

Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: P.J. Walker.

Congrats, Steve Wilks! You’re an NFL head coach again!

Your first task: Fix an offense that ranks 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and do it with a former XFL QB under center.

First, Matt Rhule was fired on Monday morning. Then, it was reported that Baker Mayfield is going to miss time because of an ankle sprain.

That might not be horrible news for the Panthers, who rank 30th in Pass DVOA after their putrid Week 5 performance against the 49ers.

Of the 261 quarterbacks who have started a game over the past 20 years, Baker Mayfield ranks 256th with his 26-39-1 against the spread (ATS) record. Hey, maybe Sam Darnold will be better once he’s healthy! Well, he ranks 254th at 18-30-1.

(Wondering who’s dead last? Jay Cutler.)

Good news, Panthers fans: P.J. Walker is 2-0 ATS and straight-up as an NFL starting quarterback.

Here’s how Walker fared in his first two NFL starts — a 20-0 win over the Lions in Week 11 of 2020 and a 34-10 win over the Cardinals in Week 10 of last season:

  • Detroit, Week 11 of 2020: 24-of-34, 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
  • Arizona: Week 10 of 2021: 22-of-29, 167 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Wilks was the head coach of the 2018 Arizona Cardinals, who went 3-13. He was fired after the season, and the team drafted Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick.

While the Cardinals only won three games that season, they did go 7-8-1 ATS.

Panthers vs. Rams Week 6 Odds

The Rams opened as 7.5-point favorites against the Panthers in Week 6, but that line is all the way up to 10.5 at FanDuel. It’s an 11-point spread at other books.

Los Angeles is off to a bad start at 2-3 overall and 1-4 ATS. Then again, Carolina has the same ATS mark.

Bet at FanDuel: Panthers +10.5 | Rams -10.5

Sean Koerner Analysis

I'm projecting a dropoff of 2-2.5 points with Walker taking over for Mayfield under center.

Walker is a true third-string QB, as he would be when the Panthers are healthy. He does have some sneaky dual-threat ability, which makes him only a slight downgrade from how bad Mayfield has been.

Walker has started one game in each of the last two seasons, and he was legitimately the MVP of the shortened XFL season in 2020, when he played for the Houston Roughnecks.

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