Fans are in for a close one in Cleveland this Sunday as the Carolina Panthers opened as slight 1.0-point favorites over the Browns in their Week 14 matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EST on December 9th.
Carolina’s offense goes as far as their running game will take them. They average 25.3 points per game (11th), chiefly due to their second-ranked rushing attack. Led by Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers total 140.8 yards per game on the ground.
Cam Newton hasn’t been terrible for Carolina, throwing for 2,999 yards and 24 touchdowns, but the offense thrives when the rock is in McCaffrey’s hands. The running back has rushed for 863 yards (7th) and five touchdowns this season, with 106 of those yards coming last week against the Buccaneers. Getting McCaffrey going early will be vital on Sunday.
Carolina’s defense is built to stop the run. They only spot their opponent 96.3 yards per game on the ground (6th), compared to 256.8 through the air (22nd). Unfortunately, opposing offenses have avoided running the ball against the Panthers and exploited other vulnerabilities, as they allow 25.5 points per game (21st).
The offense Carolina will see in Week 14 isn’t terrible, but they’re also not great. Cleveland scores just 22.2 points per game (20th) due to them not having anyone they can truly rely upon. The Browns possess the NFL’s 14th-ranked running game and 16th-ranked passing attack.
Baker Mayfield has totaled 2,639 yards through the air with an 18:10 TD-to-INT ratio (91.1 passer rating). Jarvis Landry has been his most effective receiver, pulling in in 66 passes for 733 yards and two TDs. Meanwhile, it’s been Nick Chubb leading the way out of the backfield, totaling 694 yards on the ground (16th-most in the NFL) with seven rushing TDs. Until either Mayfield or Chubb steps up and becomes a bigger threat, this offense will remain average.
There’s not many positive discussions you can have involving the Browns defense. They’re surrendering an unsettling 26.0 points per game, which is 24th in the league. Teams are able to score with such ease because they can attack in whichever way they please. Cleveland gives up 136.4 yards per game on the ground (28th) and 276.3 through the air (29th). It appears the biggest threat to Cam Newton’s numbers this week is Christian McCaffrey having too big of a game, and vice versa.