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The Carolina Panthers will be hoping to halt a four-game losing streak when they visit the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Carolina has plunged to 6-6 following consecutive setbacks against Pittsburgh, Detroit, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. The Browns are a respectable 4-7-1 but saw a two-game winning streak come to an end at Houston’s hands this past weekend.
Newton, Panthers in a slump
Once 6-2, the Panthers now find themselves totally out of the NFC South race and in serious jeopardy of not even bagging a wild-card spot in the playoffs. Their woes continued with last week’s 24-17 road loss to the Buccaneers. Quarterback Cam Newton was picked off a horrendous four times, completing 28 of 41 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns in the process. He was pulled in favor of backup Taylor Heinicke for a Hail Mary’ attempt on the final play, mainly because Newton’s throwing shoulder is ailing and his ability to get the ball to the endzone from near midfield was in doubt.
“At the end of the day, I just know I’m healthy enough to play,” Newton assured. “I’m not going to let nothing hold me back from being able to help my team. I definitely don’t want to be a liability. I just want to make sure that I’m putting myself and this team in the best position to win football games.”
On the bright side for the Panthers, they likely would have defeated Tampa Bay if not for the careless turnovers. The visitors gained 444 total yards to the Buccaneers’ 315. Tampa Bay finished with a mere 95 rushing yards
The Browns have spent years upon years of rebuilding, in part because they have wasted top draft picks on players who turned out to be busts. Cleveland had three selections in the first 35 overall of this year’s NFL Draft and finally the franchise made some moves that paid off with immediate dividends. No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield did not begin the 2018 campaign as Cleveland’s starter, but he quickly took over for an injured Tyrod Taylor and never looked back. Mistakes have been a problem, just like they have been for Newton, but for the most part Mayfield’s rookie season can be considered a success. The former Oklahoma standout has thrown 18 touchdown passes compared to 10 interceptions while completing 63.3 percent of his attempts.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 5, 2018
Rookie running back Nick Chubb, meanwhile, was given the keys to the backfield when Carlos Hyde was traded in October. Chubb has 16 carries through the first six weeks and has since rushed 115 times over the last seven games. The former Georgia star has 694 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per rush. He has also caught 12 passes for 133 yards and two additional scores. Chubb is averaging 4.59 yards after contact per attempt (Pro Football Focus), the highest such mark ever charted for a back with at least 100 attempts (since PFF started tracking those numbers in 2006). He has forced 33 missed tackles on his 131 carries.
The Cleveland Browns are:
- 16-37-1 ATS in their last 54 overall
- 8-19 ATS in their last 27 home games
- 1-4 ATS in their last five December games
The Carolina Panthers are:
- 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games following a loss
- 4-0 ATS in their last four Week 14 games
- 4-1 Under in their last five road games
Updated on Dec 9 at 12:50am EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Browns were + 1 at the start of the week and have now gone to -1, despite the fact that the Panthers have gotten 64% of the tickets. The Sharps are on the side of the Browns.
Injury / Weather Report
No Weather Issues are expected
Carolina’s Impact Injury Report
Starting Kicker Graham Gano is out
Cleveland’s Impact Injury Report
DB Denzel Ward (48 Tackles, Three INTs) is Out
DB Phillip Gaines (38 Tackles), Larry Ogunjobi (38 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks), and Center JC Tretter (12 Starts) are all questionable.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Cleveland’s offense took a step back against Houston last week, scoring only 13 points. Mayfield attempted 43 passes while playing from behind basically the entire way and got picked off three times. Carolina is sixth in the NFL against the run, so Chubb could be in trouble if Mayfield can’t get back on track and take some pressure off the ground game. The Panthers are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams and it is also worth noting that the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head matchups.
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
Full-Game Total Pick
Carolina tight end Greg Olsen is on injured reserve and out for the season after suffering a foot injury during last week’s setback against Tampa Bay. Newton’s shoulder is still bothering him, as well. Temperatures will be around freezing for this one, which will not improve Newton’s already sour mood. The under is 4-1 in the Panthers’ last five on the road and 4-1 in their last five following an ATS loss. It is also 14-5 in the Browns’ last 19 at home, 17-8 in their last 25 on grass, and 7-2 in their last nine Week 14 contests. Look for this one to stay under the total.