James Conner has filled in admirably while veteran Le'Veon Bell has continued his contract holdout, and Conner is an excellent bet to continue his great run against Carolina.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) are riding a four-game winning streak into Thursday night's nationally televised showdown with the Carolina Panthers (6-2). One of the main reasons for their turnaround has been the emergence of running back James Conner, who has filled in admirably while veteran Le'Veon Bell has continued his contract holdout.
Even though Bell is reportedly back in Pittsburgh and will likely report to the team soon, Conner is an excellent bet to continue his great run against Carolina.
The former Pittsburgh Panther has 706 rushing yards, 379 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns, with seven of them scored during the winning streak. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past four games as well since the Steelers suffered their last loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.
Conner is listed as a +144 favorite (bet $100 to win $144) to score a touchdown anytime versus the Panthers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, which seems like easy money considering how well he has played lately. He is also +550 to hit paydirt first and +550 to score last.
Carolina, the 4-point underdog on the Thursday Night Football odds, does have a stingy run defense, ranking sixth in the NFL by allowing 94.1 yards per game. But the Panthers have surrendered five rushing touchdowns, and they have their own threat to score on the ground too in running back Christian McCaffrey, who is +180 to have a touchdown anytime.
In fact, McCaffrey has scored four touchdowns in the last two games combined, including three rushing and one receiving. Because of his dual-threat ability, McCaffrey is a good bet to score twice again at +550.
As far as the quarterbacks go, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has averaged 28 completions in the last three games, making him a solid wager to go over 25.5 here at +172. Meanwhile, Carolina's Cam Newton has been on the opposite end of the spectrum recently, averaging 20 completions in his past two games to make under 21.5 worth a look at +180.
In Newton's previous three games though, he averaged just over 24. He has totaled under 21.5 completions in five of eight games for the Panthers so far this season.