Saturday September 20th, 2014

The Carolina Panthers have not played the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular season since quarterback Cam Newton was selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft. And that’s the top reason you can throw out the fact the Steelers have covered the spread in their past five meetings with the Panthers, who are consensus 3-point favorites for Sunday night according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Newton has obviously changed the Carolina franchise dramatically since his arrival, although it took a couple of years of adjusting before he would turn the team into NFC South champions, as he did last year. After the Panthers went 6-10 in Newton’s rookie year, they took one small step forward the following season with a 7-9 mark before making a giant leap in 2013 by going 12-4 straight-up and 9-6-1 against the spread.

The most impressive part of that turnaround for Newton and Carolina was starting last year at 0-2 straight up and ATS and then still claiming the division. The Panthers went on to go 5-0-1 against the spread last season as home favorites, and they added to that positive trend with a 24-7 victory against the Detroit Lions last week as 1.5-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. They are 7-0-1 against the spread as home favorites dating back to the end of the 2012 season.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh ended up going to the Super Bowl the last time it met Carolina during the regular season, but the team has made the playoffs the same number of times as the Panthers since (once). The Steelers are coming off back-to-back 8-8 campaigns and find themselves 1-1 straight up but 0-2 against the spread so far this year after covering seven of their previous eight. They will have some extra rest heading into this matchup following a 26-6 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football in Week 2 with the closing odds showing them as 2.5-point underdogs.

This Pittsburgh vs. Carolina matchup has a couple contrasting trends regarding totals. The OVER is 3-1 in the last four games against NFC South opponents for the Steelers, while the UNDER is 5-1 in the past six games as home favorites for the Panthers. The total is set at 41.5 for this game, which will be played at Carolina.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.