Carolina Panthers should win without Cam Newton on ‘MNF’

A season after Cam Newton was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, what’s his value to the betting line? Not as much as most might think.

Newton will be sidelined because of a concussion on Monday night, when Carolina hosts Tampa Bay in a dull matchup of 1-3 teams. The Panthers are 5½-point favorites at most Las Vegas books, where no traffic jams are expected at the betting windows.

“Not a lot of action so far,” CG Technology sports book director Jason Simbal said. “It seems the lightest of the regular season as far as Mondays go.”

The Panthers will start Derek Anderson, and the quality of the backup quarterback is a major factor in determining the point-spread value of the injured starter. In this case, Carolina might have been a 7-point favorite with Newton.

Sportsmemo.com handicapper Erin Rynning said the dropoff from Newton to Anderson is 1.2 points on his numbers. “The Panthers’ passing game might be better with Anderson,” Rynning said.

Elite quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers generally have been worth five to seven points to the line in recent seasons. Newton has played poorly this season, however, and Anderson is considered an above-average backup. Anderson subbed twice for Newton against the Buccaneers in 2014 and won both starts.

Carolina also will be missing running back Jonathan Stewart, who’s out with a hamstring injury. Anderson will rely heavily on wideout Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen to move the ball through the air.

Tampa Bay also faces significant injury troubles. Running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims are out, and Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy is doubtful to play for a defense that is getting torched for 32 points per game.

Look for Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to throw early and often against a Carolina defense that has slipped a lot this season. The total is 45½, and a higher-scoring game would not be a surprise.

This game is not a great wagering opportunity. It’s probably a better idea to watch the baseball playoffs, because the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are playing tonight, too. But for those who feel the need to bet …

Pick: Panthers -5½

Contact sports betting reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247

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