It’s never just another game on Monday night. This is when the stars show up to shine, and it’s a chance for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to put a positive spin on his no-show season.
A year after being voted Most Valuable Player, Newton has been one of the NFL’s biggest busts. A year after starting 14-0, the Panthers (5-8) are still fighting a Super Bowl hangover and hoping to finish .500.
Most bettors are not biting on the Panthers being live ‘dogs on “Monday Night Football.” Washington is a 6½- to 7-point home favorite over Carolina, after the line opened at 4½. Las Vegas books need the underdog to cover after another losing NFL weekend.
“It was not our worst Sunday of the year, but it was a loser,” CG Technology sports book director Jason Simbal said. “We need the Panthers in the game, but it’s not a huge decision. But when you add the parlays to it, and most of the parlays are going to the Redskins, it’s kind of a big decision.”
The Panthers need Newton to return to Superman form instead of resembling a super-sized flop.
Newton has completed only 53.5 percent of his passes and ranks 26th in the league in with a passer rating of 78.9. He has 15 touchdown passes, a year after he passed for 35 touchdowns.
Washington (7-5-1) desperately seeks the win to stay in postseason contention. Oddsmakers are anticipating a shootout by setting a total of 51. The Redskins, who have allowed 20 points or more in eight straight games, are 11-2 over the total. Kirk Cousins leads their high-powered passing offense.
The Panthers might opt to sit their best defensive player, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who’s on track to come back from a concussion but has little reason to return for a meaningless game.
The Redskins are 0-5 straight up and against the spread in their past five home appearances on Monday night.
To put more of a positive spin on Carolina’s chances, Newton owns a 3-0 career record against Washington. I expect the Redskins to win, but Newton should play well against a weak defense. The line is inflated enough for me to bite on the underdog.
Pick: Panthers (+7)
Contact sports betting reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. Follow @mattyoumans247 on Twitter.