Lions To Overcome Panthers On Home Soil

The Detroit Lions have enjoyed a strong start to the 2017 NFL campaign following their win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Jim Caldwell’s men are on course for the playoffs for the second year on the bounce, having won three of their opening four matches.

However, the Carolina Panthers come into the contest fresh off an impressive road victory over the New England Patriots.

The Panthers are also 3-1 in their season, but have not been operating at their best through the first month.

Ron Rivera’s men will be looking to kick from their win over the Patriots, using the success as a springboard to take control of the NFC South.

Both sides have their sights set on the playoffs and will be eyeing a statement contest at Ford Field.

Detroit’s defense was solid last week, halting the progress of Case Keenum and the Vikings after their hammering of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They’ve also played solid football against the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals on home soil. However, they were cruelly denied a victory over the Falcons in their last match at home.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been in the headlines for the right and wrong reasons this week. He played well against the Patriots, capitalising on Bill Belichick’s woeful defense on the road.

However, the 28-year-old has brought scandal upon himself by demeaning a female reporter during a press conference. Newton needs a strong performance to keep the attention away from his behaviour off-the-field.

We’ll now break down both sides and look ahead to the contest using the latest betting odds.

Detroit Lions

The Lions need to keep up their momentum

The Lions have become a resilient unit under Caldwell, highlighted by their tough win over the Vikings on the road. Minnesota had lit up the scoreboard in their hammering of the Buccaneers a week prior, but Detroit put the clamps on their offense, limiting the home side to just seven points.

A large part of their success on defense is due to the return to form of Ezekiel Ansah. The defensive end had lingering injury issues last season that limited his play on the field. He notched just two sacks over the course of the 2016 campaign – a long way from the player that dominated in 2015.

The 28-year-old has found his form this term, with three sacks already to his name. He looks to be on course for the double digits he notched in the 2015 campaign when had 14.5 sacks.

Ansah’s performances are also bringing out the best in his team-mates, with Anthony Zettel bring freed up to hit opposing quarterbacks. Zettel looks to be on the path for a breakout season, having already attained for four sacks, including two against the Vikings.

Darius Slay has continued to be a lockdown corner in the secondary, while rookie Jarrad Davis has been extremely impressive in his first four starts.

As a result of the club’s defensive performances there has been less pressure on Stafford. The 28-year-old did not need to a throw a touchdown against the Vikings last week. The Lions’ defense controlled the game, allowing the quarterback to remain error-free.

If Stafford is allowed to play within himself without having to throw on every down – Detroit could well have a sustainable method of victory to book their place in the post-season.

Carolina Panthers

Newton needs a strong outing

Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a fine win over the Patriots. Newton and the offense moved down the field with ease, exposing the space in New England’s secondary. Devin Funchess had a great game as he notched two touchdowns, while Kelvin Benjamin had 100 yards through the air.

Newton was the star man though with three passing touchdowns along with a rushing score. He threw for over 300 yards for the first time in the campaign, completing 22 of his 29 passes. The 28-year-old had an awful game against the Saints and needed to fire once again, although he was aided by shocking defending from New England.

The quarterback now has the challenge of building off his success. However, he has put a cloud over the week with his behaviour during his press conference. There will be pressure on him now to respond on the pitch with another strong display, although questions about his maturity will continue.

A fourth win of the season would be a huge statement for the Panthers. The NFC South looks to be a very competitive division this season.

The Falcons, Saints and Buccaneers all have talent and have made good starts to the campaign. That will not continue as the sides face off against each other, and Newton will need to maintain his rhythm to help his side on the path to the playoffs.

The defense looks solid enough, although injuries are starting to mount in the secondary. However, Luke Kuechly is on course for a challenge at Defensive Player of the Year award.

Should he and the front seven continue to dominate – it may mitigate their issues at cornerback and safety.

Betting Options

The Panthers did find life on offense last week, but were aided by the Patriots’ woes. The Lions will not afford them the same space in the secondary, with Slay and company boasting a solid unit. Newton will have to dig deep to carve out another victory on the road, although Carolina’s defense will also have to perform to a high level.

Detroit are a club transformed under Caldwell. Although they’ve not been a dominant force in the NFL – they’re a long way from the club that was a laughing stock less than decade ago. Ford Field is no longer an easy place to visit, with Stafford boasting incredible statistics in the fourth quarter.

As a result, the Lions should be able to secure their fourth win of the season. Backing Caldwell’s men at odds of -135   with Bovada sportsbook is the option to take. Also take the Lions to cover the -3.5 spread with Winner Sports at odds of +138   due to the strong nature of their home displays.

Although the Panthers put points on the board last week – expect this contest to be a low-scoring affair. Back Carolina to score under 18 points at odds of +150   with Ladbrokes as Newton will be distracted by his off-the-field issues.

Tips Summary

Detroit Lions To Beat Carolina Panthers
Sunday 8th October 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 BST)
Odds: -135

Detroit Lions To Cover -3.5 Spread
Sunday 8th October 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 BST)
Odds: +138

Carolina Panthers To Score Under 18 Points
Sunday 8th October 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 BST)
Odds: +150

Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers
Detroit Lions
Matt Stafford
NFL

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