Online sports betting sites are suggesting this is going to be a good one, as the Carolina Panthers (1-1) opened as slight 3.0-point home favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) in their Week 3 matchup at Bank of America Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EST on September 23rd.
The Bengals offense is one of the most improved units in the league so far, scoring admirable 34.0 points per game (4th) after finishing 2017 deadlast in total offense. The upgraded offensive line is both keeping Andy Dalton clean in the pocket (2 sacks) and opening holes for the running game, which is averaging 4.4 YPC (10th).
It will have to make those holes a little bigger this week, though, as workhorse running back Joe Mixon is on the shelf with a knee injury.
Cincinnati’s defense has excelled stopping the run. The Bengals only cede 70.5 yards per game on the ground (3rd), compared to 332.0 through the air (30th). Part of that comes from facing a pass-happy Colts offense in Week 1, and part comes from jumping out to a big lead against Baltimore in Week 2, forcing the Ravens to play catch up.
Cincinnati’s pass defense should see its stats improve this week when they line up across from the Panthers. Carolina is averaging just 232.0 yards per game through the air (20th), compared to 134.0 on the ground (5th). Their leading receiver on the year is running back Christian McCaffery (20 receptions, 147 receiving yards) who has twice as many catches as any wideout. Carolina’s anemic passing game has the team scoring just 20.0 points per game (23rd).
On the other side of the ball, Carolina’s defense was a brick wall in Week 1 (a 16-8 win vs Dallas) but a lot more generous in Week 2 (a 31-24 loss at Atlanta). All in all, they are giving up 19.5 PPG, 9th in the NFL. Their secondary has been elite, surrendering just 205.0 yards per game through the air. It’s a bad week for the Bengals to be missing Joe Mixon on the ground.