NFL Week 8 Late TV Games: Indy can tame the hungry Panthers

At Last Action Hero: Luck is finally returning to form after injury
At Last Action Hero: Luck is finally returning to form after injury

Romilly Evans looks at some big live TV match-ups to conclude this week's gridiron action, where he predicts that Carolina's undefeated run will come to an abrupt halt...


"Newton resembles a jittery cop busting into a crack den: he knows you can’t go in with one plan, you need 20 - too much can go wrong"

Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos
Start-time: Monday, 01:30
TV: Live on SS2
 

Something's gotta give here, and I reckon it'll be the Denver Broncos' perfect record. Peyton Manning used the make it rain in Denver, not the clouds that hit the Rockies. Yet now seasoned scouts are starting to sound as gloomy as a winter's day when predicting the future for this all-time great.

Manning is clearly not the quarterback he was (a steadily declining Passer Rating Average - 128 dialling down to 72 over the past three years) but don't be too quick to write him off. He can still make the throws, while his declining arm strength won't be at its most susceptible until December's darker days arrive. In the meantime, his experience and canny mental coding always gives this offense a shot.

Ronnie Hillman has also stepped up at RB to surpass CJ Anderson this term (which gives Denver some flexibility in moving the chains) and Manning retains two top-class receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Naturally, though, Denver's in-your-face defense has been generating most of the plaudits for their 6-0 record under Wade Phillips.

That said, Aaron Rodgers also holds a perfect streak for the current campaign, and he is the first QB the Broncos have encountered with the tools to unpick Phillips' battle plans. In fact, Rodgers even appears to operate better under pressure from the blitz, or on the move with his surprising elusiveness. Further, the recent bye week will have helped some key Green Bay Packers recover from niggles and knocks - star wideout Randall Cobb (shoulder), James Jones (hamstring) and running man Eddie Lacy (ankle) have not been operating at peak performance. But that could be about to change at this rarefied altitude.

Regardless, Rodgers is already the second-best starter under center this term and can only improve. Especially with Lacy's belated recovery set to bolster the Pack's backfield options for a protracted postseason push. I'm not quite ready to rule Manning out of the Super Bowl picture, but a passing of the torch from one great to another could be the enshrined in this mouthwatering match-up.

Recommended Bets

Back Green Bay Packers (-2.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.910/11 or better
Back Back Green Bay Packers (-1.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 2.01/1 or better
Back Over 45.5 Total Points @ 2.01/1 or better
Back E. Lacy to score First / Anytime Touchdown 10.09/1 or better


Indianapolis Colts @ Carolina Panthers
Start-time: Tuesday, 01:30
TV: Live on SS1
 

Another blemish-free record is on the line here. Except, unlike in this week's first primetime game, the Carolina Panthers are clear favourites to protect theirs against a stuttering Indianapolis outfit. At the year's outset, however, the Vegas line would've read very differently, so surely it's far too premature to be discounting the Colts?

Most of their struggles have unsurprisingly focused around a faulty fulcrum in Andrew Luck. First he misfired, then he got injured. In fact, back-up Matt Hasselbeck did a better job. Luck's even owned the worst passer rating in the league - pretty shoddy for a supposed Hall of Fame lock.

Nevertheless, after successive seasons raising a high bar, this is not the time to desert him, even if the causality behind some of his dismal efforts remains something of a mystery. He will improve, and demonstrated as much when keeping Indy in with a shout against the New England Patriots, where he matched Tom Brady for yards and touchdowns. In short, Luck is steadily recovering from a right-shoulder tear and can yet make up for lost ground, provided he can minimise the uncharacteristic mistakes (four multi-interception matches) that mired his first few outings, and admittedly also his last versus New Orleans.

More hope and mitigation for his defence can be provided by the Colts' O-line which is slowly gelling after a loosely assembled beginning. Frank Gore has been another beneficiary of this progressive cohesion over the past fortnight, and this vet can now keep the chains moving for Indy, and drain the clock if required.

The Panthers have been begging me to take them on for weeks, so I'm finally going to take the bait. Although there's much to recommend in a steadfast ability to win ugly, you get the sense that Cam Newton and Co are hanging on by a thread to top-seeding status.

Indeed, Newton presently resembles a jittery cop busting into a crack den: he knows you can't go in with one plan, you need 20 - too much can go wrong. And while Carolina's creativity keeps them dangerous, their erratic nature of their components means it can breakdown as quickly as it comes together.

Home advantage is big for the Panthers. However, it has seen the oddsmakers afford Indy a touchdown's headstart here. That's an insult to their talent. They can even win off scratch.

Recommended Bets

Back Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 2.021/1 or better
Back Indianapolis Colts to win on the Match Moneyline @ 3.711/4 or better
Back Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 2.01/1 or better
Back Over 20.5 Indianapolis Colts Total Points @ 1.9210/11 or better


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