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Carolina vs. Pittsburgh NFL Preview: Week 16 Free Pick

Carolina Panthers vs Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Week 16 NFL Gambling & Free Predictions

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Thursday Night Football – Week 16: Panthers vs Steelers Preview & Pick

Date: Thursday, December 23, 2010
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Broadcast: NFL Network
Carolina Panthers vs Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Lines from Betus.com
Money Line: OFF
Spread: Steelers -15
Over/Under: 37
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Carolina Panthers (2-12)

For the 2-12 Carolina Panthers, 2010 has come down to playing out the string. Their season is long over and their “fan base” anxiously awaits a very high draft pick in spring of 2011. Sure, they invested a second-round pick on Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, but he hasn’t shown much. Does mean they’ll draft Andrew Luck?

In 11 games this season, Clausen has just two touchdown passes versus seven interceptions; he hasn’t thrown for more than 195 yards in a game. I suppose he could still blossom but he hasn’t shown the same promise as fellow rookie signal callers like Sam Bradford or even Colt McCoy.

Simply put, the Panthers can’t score or get the ball downfield. They rank dead last in the NFL in total offense and passing yards. If they have a lone bright spot this year it’s definitely Jonathan Stewart. The Daily Show has shined since DeAngelo Williams went down and relinquished the featured back reins; over his last four starts, Stewart averages 115 rushing yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry.

Though the Panthers only have to stay within 14 points to beat the spread tonight, they’re 2-6 against the spread over their last eight games and 1-6 ATS over their last seven games as an underdog.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)

Home field through to the Super Bowl is no longer possible after the Jets knocked them off last week but the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in reasonably good shape. They field a top-three defense in the league, including the NFL’s No. 1 run defense.

Though Pittsburgh is only 24th against the pass and may be without Troy Polamalu (Achilles) for the second straight week, the Panthers’ passing game isn’t a threat. They only really have to worry about Stewart and the Steelers front seven is more than equipped to do so. Overall, Pittsburgh allows only 63.4 rushing yards per game.

The Panthers aren’t pushovers on defense, ranking eighth against the pass, but Pittsburgh can beat them in multiple ways. Rashard Mendenhall has run for 10 scores and is closing in on 1,200 rushing yards. Big Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t set the world on fire but has been consistently solid; Mike Wallace is breaking out as his top downfield target, leading the AFC with 19.8 yards per catch.

The pick:

It’s pretty safe to assume Pittsburgh wins this game but, with the spread so big, bettors still have a tough decision. The Steelers have only beaten the spread once in their last five games when favored by 10.5 or more points.

Still – I like them to cover tonight. The league’s most anemic offense is in tough playing on the road in a frigid city at night. If they can score double-digit points on Pittsburgh, I’ll be surprised.

Panthers vs Steelers prediction: Steelers 31, Panthers 10

Money Line: OFF
Spread: Steelers -15
Over/Under: OVER 37

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.


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