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Matchup Analysis: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Panthers 24, Steelers 28

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Carolina Panthers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Panthers Offense27.5 (+3.5) (12)144 (+33) (2)228 (-23) (22)
Steelers Defense23.5 (-0.5) (15)90 (-20) (6)258 (+6) (21)

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Steelers Offense28.4 (+4.3) (9)102 (-9) (22)314 (+62) (4)
Panthers Defense22.5 (-1.5) (13)94 (-16) (8)251 (+0) (19)

Panthers Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Even with a shaky front line in place, the Panthers continue to produce well on the ground. Their running personnel, namely Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton, is suited beautifully for the team’s option game. McCaffrey is an agile, explosive runner for sure, but he’s an underrated presence between the tackles. He frequently ground down college defenses at Stanford, even against stacked boxes, and he’s showing the same potential on the NFL stage. No longer a mere novelty back, McCaffrey has averaged 13.6 rushes per game this year, with 4.57 yards per carry over his last 17 appearances. Newton remains one of the league’s toughest open-field tackles, consistently shaking through traffic and bullying defenders up the middle. It’s an unconventional one-two punch, but one that’s combined to produce 90 yards a game thus far, with 7 touchdowns on the year.

Last year’s Steelers were an enigma in run defense, alternating suffocating games with extremely porous ones. But it’s been all good news thus far in 2018. Only a single runner (Kareem Hunt in Week 2) has topped 65 yards in this matchup, and lead backs are averaging just 3.89 yards per rush. With solid anchors up front in Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward, they’re capable of controlling the line in just about any matchup. And the linebackers have been a pleasant surprise themselves in a period of transition. Ryan Shazier's serious neck injury cast a lot of doubt on this group, but journeyman Jon Bostic has been stout in run support, and the run-stuffing safeties offer a great hybrid presence on the second level.

Panthers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Cam Newton has actually been among the NFL’s more consistent passers of 2018. He’s completing a career-best 67% of his throws, and he’s fired multiple touchdowns in each of his last 7 outings. His Week 9 line (247 yards) wasn’t quite the stat eruption typically allowed by the Buccaneers, but it was efficient (9.9 yards per attempt) and produced a pair of touchdowns through the air. Newton still has occasional struggles with ball placement – he continues to rely too much on arm strength, rather than touch, on a lot of his throws. But the team has finally surrounded him with dynamic weaponry on all levels of the field, making his job easier overall. Devin Funchess has developed into a fairly reliable downfield threat, routinely winning contested routes and turning errant throws into big catches. It’s important to remember he’s still just 24 years old and still technically on the rise. Rookie D.J. Moore continues to flash huge-play ability, as well, averaging 15.6 yards on his 19 receptions. Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen provide security blankets underneath, but both are capable of big plays and stat lines. McCaffrey has produced 45 yards or more 5 times already, and Olsen has found the end zone in each of the last 3 games.

The Steelers’ inconsistent pass defense is actually on an impressive upturn at the moment. They did a fine job last week of holding down Joe Flacco and the Baltimore pass game (just 218 yards), good for their third straight game of keeping opponents below 230. There are definitely weak spots throughout this unit, though. Top outside cornerback Joe Haden has been bad as often as good thus far, while Artie Burns (who’s been benched) and Coty Sensabaugh have been inconsistent at best on the other side. At least slot man Mike Hilton is holding things down well inside. All told, this is a high-impact unit whose primary goal is to make life difficult for quarterbacks. They’re beatable, but when the dynamic pass rush is reaching its marks, opposing passers find tough sledding.

Steelers Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Panthers defense.

Simply put, the Steelers probably don’t miss LeVeon Bell much, if at all. It sounds strange out loud, but James Conner has been roughly just as productive – and a better touchdown scorer – at a mere fraction of Bell’s cost and headache. Conner currently sits third league-wide in yards per game (88), and he’s already matched Bell’s career-high in rushing scores (9). Last Sunday, Conner became the first back all year to top 84 yards against Baltimore’s top-notch defense – and he actually reached 107 (on just 24 attempts). He’s now reached the century mark in 4 straight games, averaging 119 per contest and 5.39 per run over that span. Conner isn’t quite the agility monster Bell is, but is a no-nonsense runner between the tackles, always looking to churn upfield and fall forward. Operating behind an elite front line that routinely opens wide lanes, he’s a perfect fit. The team would love to have right tackle Marcus Gilbert back, but Matt Feller has been adequate in his stead. Given Conner’s all-around ability and the team’s trust in him as a workhorse, he projects well weekly, regardless of matchup.

After a rough stretch to open the year, the Panthers run defense is finding its dominant stride. They haven’t allowed a runner to reach 50 yards since Week 6, and backs in general have averaged just 3.63 per carry over that span. That’s been aided a bit by game flow, and Baltimore’s Alex Collins did run well (11 for 49 and 1 touchdown) just 2 weeks ago. But overall, this is a swarming unit that makes life difficult on opposing run games. The return of linebacker Thomas Davis from suspension has been key; he’s 35, but still well ahead of where young Shaq Thompson is. Luke Kuechly hasn’t been his dominant self this season, but still swallows up inside runs, and the group benefits from a stout front line that controls the point of attack well.

Steelers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Panthers defense.

Ben Roethlisberger has quietly enjoyed one of his best late-career seasons here in 2018. Last week he worked over the vaunted Ravens defense for 270 yards and 2 scores; he’s now topped 250 in every game and thrown multiple touchdowns 5 times. In fact, he’s posting his best completion and yardage rates since 2015. Boasting possibly the league’s best one-two punch at wideout, the Steelers are winning battles on all levels of the field. Antonio Brown remains one of football’s toughest covers – and toughest open-field tackles – and has been good for at least one touchdown in seven of eight games thus far. But he’s actually been outproduced by second-year phenom JuJu Smith-Schuster, who averages 6.6 catches and 84 yards a game. Seam-stretching tight end Vance McDonald has been a fun addition to the group, and James Conner has brought LeVeon Bell-like dynamism out of the backfield. This remains one of football’s most eruptive passing games, and there’s not really a ceiling when they’re pressed into a shootout.

The Panthers’ shaky pass defense truly showed up in a big way last week. Facing a free-swinging Tampa Bay offense that was posting nearly 400 yards a game, Carolina sold out deep to stop the long ball, and the results couldn’t have been sweeter. Ryan Fitzpatrick compiled just 243 yards, and his 3 lethal wideouts managed a combined 88. It was the kind of performance that hints at a major turnaround. Top cornerback James Bradberry is up-and-down in coverage, but he showed extremely well last week, helping to hold Mike Evans to just a single reception over 10 targets. Rookie Donte Jackson has been exceptional throughout his debut season, and the pass rush is dynamic enough to make the cornerbacks’ jobs even easier.

Steelers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)27 (+2.7)27 (+2.8)28 (+2.6)27 (+2.7)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-5.3)4 (-5.3)6 (-4.6)5 (-5.5)
6Andy Dalton6126422292000019.519.517.217.2
8Baker Mayfield6422361802119016.916.915.115.1
9Joe Flacco6123372060000010.310.38.28.2

Cam Newton (FanDuel: $8700, DraftKings: $6100)

7@ PHI59253926920749026.426.425.725.7
8vs BAL622129219201052130.
9vs TB621925247201133023.723.721.221.2
10PROJ-Dodds22352511.60.97380.424.324.324.3 (H=57)24.3 (H=82)
10PROJ-Tremblay21332331.50.99420.423.423.423.4 (H=54)23.4 (H=77)
10PROJ-Bloom20292351.90.58470.425.925.925.9 (H=64)25.9 (H=91)

Steelers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-5.8)2 (-7.3)2 (-6.6)1 (-7.9)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2 (-6.8)2 (-7.0)2 (-6.6)2 (-7.5)
6Joe Mixon42116417420014.418.416.418.4
6Mark Walton192-200000-0.2-0.2-0.2-0.2
8Nick Chubb3118650321007.
8Dontrell Hilliard15000112402.
9Alex Collins31935111409.910.910.410.9
9Javorius Allen2616055801.

Christian McCaffrey (FanDuel: $8000, DraftKings: $7600)

7@ PHI5972906651081411.014.0
8vs BAL64144516411117.621.619.621.6
9vs TB61177926578027.732.730.232.7
10PROJ-Dodds14560.46490. (H=34)20.1 (H=47)
10PROJ-Tremblay14600.46450. (H=34)20.1 (H=47)
10PROJ-Bloom13460.45410.312.917.915.4 (H=28)17.9 (H=38)

C.J. Anderson (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $4000)

7@ PHI30000000000.00.0
8vs BAL1252000000222.02.0
9vs TB311000000.
10PROJ-Dodds2100000111.0 (H=0)1.0 (H=0)
10PROJ-Tremblay290.10001.51.51.5 (H=0)1.5 (H=1)
10PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Steelers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)26 (+2.9)27 (+4.1)26 (+3.0)10T (+4.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8 (-4.7)12 (-2.5)9 (-3.6)10 (-3.8)
6Tyler Boyd579762200018.225.221.725.2
6A.J. Green571278500008.515.512.015.5
8Antonio Callaway59653610009.614.612.114.6
8Jarvis Landry521283900003.911.97.911.9
9Willie Snead42875800005.812.89.312.8
9Michael Crabtree43733200003.

Devin Funchess (FanDuel: $6100, DraftKings: $5300)

7@ PHI5411662100012.
8vs BAL48332700002.
9vs TB45544400004.
10PROJ-Dodds4570.30007.511.59.5 (H=16)11.5 (H=25)
10PROJ-Tremblay4520.30007119.0 (H=14)11.0 (H=24)
10PROJ-Bloom5610.50009.114.111.6 (H=22)14.1 (H=36)

D.J. Moore (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4700)

7@ PHI27532900002.
8vs BAL4665900239012.917.915.417.9
9vs TB532116013204.
10PROJ-Dodds3430.21806.39.37.9 (H=13)9.4 (H=20)
10PROJ-Tremblay3420.21405.88.87.4 (H=11)8.9 (H=18)
10PROJ-Bloom3440.31130. (H=18)11.2 (H=27)

Curtis Samuel (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3600)

7@ PHI19111602918.
8vs BAL26332800002.
9vs TB1742251133117.819.818.819.8
10PROJ-Dodds2260.11503.75.74.8 (H=5)5.8 (H=11)
10PROJ-Tremblay2220.10303.15.14.2 (H=4)5.2 (H=9)
10PROJ-Bloom2290.21120. (H=13)8.6 (H=23)

Jarius Wright (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3100)

7@ PHI322237013407.
8vs BAL1732500000.
9vs TB2211800000.
10PROJ-Dodds2180.10002.44.43.4 (H=3)4.4 (H=8)
10PROJ-Tremblay2250.20103.85.84.8 (H=6)5.8 (H=13)
10PROJ-Bloom160.10001.22.21.7 (H=1)2.2 (H=2)

Steelers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)28 (+2.5)29 (+4.5)29 (+3.6)29 (+4.7)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17 (-0.7)19 (-0.7)18 (-0.6)19 (-0.8)
6C.J. Uzomah56765405.411.48.411.4
8Seth DeValve5222818.810.89.810.8
9Mark Andrews27635005.

Greg Olsen (FanDuel: $6500, DraftKings: $5100)

7@ PHI5952516.
8vs BAL634456111.615.613.615.6
9vs TB606676113.619.616.619.6
10PROJ-Dodds4510.47.511.59.5 (H=15)11.5 (H=26)
10PROJ-Tremblay3360. (H=8)8.4 (H=15)
10PROJ-Bloom4540.58.412.410.4 (H=17)12.4 (H=30)

Steelers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)16 (-0.2)16 (-0.2)13T (-0.5) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)12 (-0.7)12 (-0.7)10 (-1.2) (+0.0)
6Randy Bullock0033333.03.0
8Greg Joseph2301667.07.0
9Justin Tucker3311101010.010.0

Graham Gano (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

7@ PHI0012111.01.0
8vs BAL3333121215.015.0
9vs TB0066666.06.0

Steelers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7 (-2.2)7 (-2.2)6 (-3.6)6 (-3.6)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)1 (-4.4)1 (-4.4)4 (-5.3)4 (-5.3)
6Cincinnati Bengals284810000000-1.0-1.0
8Cleveland Browns3342111100554.04.0
9Baltimore Ravens2339510000111.01.0

Carolina Panthers (FanDuel: $3400, DraftKings: $2300)

7@ PHI17.0034240100667.07.0
8vs BAL21.0032522100888.08.0
9vs TB28.0030132000776.06.0
10PROJ-Dodds27.603942.31.20.600. (H=17)7.1 (H=25)
10PROJ-Tremblay27.504002.81.20.600. (H=19)7.6 (H=29)

Panthers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+0.7)23 (+0.7)23 (+1.0)24 (+1.2)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)22 (+1.5)22 (+1.5)21 (+1.5)22 (+1.5)
6Alex Smith70213616320613017.517.515.815.8
7Carson Wentz6730373102033023.823.818.722.7
8Joe Flacco61223919212214013.
9Ryan Fitzpatrick67244024342523028.528.526.026.0

Ben Roethlisberger (FanDuel: $7800, DraftKings: $6300)

8vs CLE7024362572126020.520.517.917.9
9@ BAL8028472702024127.927.925.225.2
10PROJ-Dodds264130221250. (H=59)23.2 (H=73)
10PROJ-Tremblay27423001.81.2270.122.322.322.3 (H=55)22.3 (H=68)
10PROJ-Bloom23352582.20.8250.1222222.0 (H=54)22.0 (H=67)

Panthers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7 (-4.2)6 (-5.5)6 (-4.9)5 (-5.8)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)1 (-7.7)1 (-9.0)1 (-8.6)1 (-9.7)
6Adrian Peterson371797010009.
6Kapri Bibbs26211021601.
7Wendell Smallwood35932022503.
7Corey Clement25860221602.
8Alex Collins33114912214012.314.311.313.3
8Javorius Allen23000531817.810.89.310.8
9Peyton Barber351131032904.
9Jacquizz Rodgers26214032-401.

James Conner (FanDuel: $8200, DraftKings: $8300)

8vs CLE562414626566033.238.235.741.2
9@ BAL682410709756122.329.325.832.3
10PROJ-Dodds19850.85400.117.922.920.4 (H=45)22.9 (H=54)
10PROJ-Tremblay19800.85370. (H=42)22.1 (H=51)
10PROJ-Bloom18680.75360. (H=35)20.2 (H=43)

Stevan Ridley (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3800)

8vs CLE6000221301.
10PROJ-Dodds000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
10PROJ-Tremblay1500200.70.70.7 (H=0)0.7 (H=0)
10PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Panthers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)12 (-1.6)15 (-1.1)12 (-1.7)12 (-1.9)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7 (-5.1)8 (-5.0)8 (-5.1)8 (-6.3)
6Paul Richardson52533111209.312.310.812.3
6Josh Doctson59632000002.
7Alshon Jeffery6410788100014.821.818.321.8
7Nelson Agholor59762000002.
8Willie Snead521155400005.410.47.910.4
8Michael Crabtree45533100003.
9Adam Humphries558882217020.928.924.928.9
9Chris Godwin37324000004.

Antonio Brown (FanDuel: $8700, DraftKings: $8500)

8vs CLE708674200019.425.422.425.4
9@ BAL8111542100010.215.212.715.2
10PROJ-Dodds7860.800013.420.416.9 (H=30)20.4 (H=43)
10PROJ-Tremblay6770.700011.917.914.9 (H=24)17.9 (H=34)
10PROJ-Bloom6780.900013.219.216.2 (H=28)19.2 (H=39)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (FanDuel: $7200, DraftKings: $6900)

8vs CLE56643300003.
9@ BAL77977800007.814.811.314.8
10PROJ-Dodds6780.500010.816.813.8 (H=26)16.8 (H=38)
10PROJ-Tremblay6770.400010.116.113.1 (H=23)16.1 (H=35)
10PROJ-Bloom5660.50009.614.612.1 (H=20)14.6 (H=30)

Ryan Switzer (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3200)

8vs CLE191000000000.00.0
9@ BAL13432100002.
10PROJ-Dodds1120.11302.13.12.7 (H=2)3.2 (H=4)
10PROJ-Tremblay2160.11302.54.53.6 (H=4)4.6 (H=8)
10PROJ-Bloom000000000.1 (H=0)0.1 (H=0)

James Washington (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3300)

9@ BAL70521700001.
10PROJ-Dodds1120.10001.82.82.3 (H=1)2.8 (H=3)
10PROJ-Tremblay1170.10002.33.32.8 (H=2)3.3 (H=4)
10PROJ-Bloom2140.1000243.0 (H=2)4.0 (H=6)

Panthers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+5.2)32 (+7.4)32 (+6.6)32 (+7.8)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+9.5)32 (+13.9)32 (+11.8)32 (+14.6)
6Vernon Davis363348110.813.812.313.8
7Zach Ertz65119138013.822.818.325.8
8Hayden Hurst30322918.910.99.910.9
9O.J. Howard376453217.321.319.321.3

Vance McDonald (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3600)

8vs CLE27334704.
9@ BAL51632502.
10PROJ-Dodds3420. (H=10)8.4 (H=22)
10PROJ-Tremblay3360. (H=9)7.8 (H=19)
10PROJ-Bloom3360. (H=10)8.4 (H=22)

Jesse James (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $2700)

8vs CLE4032900.
9@ BAL35325305.
10PROJ-Dodds2270. (H=5)5.3 (H=13)
10PROJ-Tremblay2250. (H=4)5.1 (H=12)
10PROJ-Bloom2280. (H=8)6.6 (H=19)

Panthers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7T (-1.7)7T (-1.7)6T (-1.5) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7 (-1.3)7 (-1.3)11 (-1.1) (+0.0)
6Dustin Hopkins3322111114.014.0
7Jake Elliott1222556.06.0
8Justin Tucker0033333.03.0
9Chandler Catanzaro0044444.04.0

Chris Boswell (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

8vs CLE1144778.08.0
9@ BAL1123555.05.0

Panthers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4T (-3.3)4T (-3.3)4 (-4.5)4 (-4.5)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-3.7)4 (-3.7)2T (-5.6)2T (-5.6)
6Washington Redskins1735011200778.08.0
7Philadelphia Eagles2137120000222.02.0
8Baltimore Ravens363860000000-4.0-4.0
9Tampa Bay Buccaneers424072000022-2.0-2.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (FanDuel: $3400, DraftKings: $2400)

8vs CLE18.0023721010667.07.0
9@ BAL16.0026520000223.03.0
10PROJ-Dodds23.503562.20.90.700. (H=22)8.1 (H=31)
10PROJ-Tremblay24.003542.10.90.700.4888.0 (H=21)8.0 (H=30)