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NFL Week 10 Best Bets & Predictions – Panthers vs. Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday Night – 11/8/2018

Steelers vs Panthers

  • When: Thursday, November 8, 2018 @ 8:20 pm EST
  • Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

(Betting odds from Sportsbetting.ag and current as of 10/30 at 1 pm)

TeamPoint SpreadMoneylineTotal (over-under)
Carolina Panthers-111170Ov 51.5 -112
Pittsburgh Steelers-109-195Un 51.5 -108

This season, I’ve been writing 3-4 articles per week sharing my picks and predictions. I cover the Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday night NFL matchups each week as well as a Pick(s) of the Week column in which I share my full slate of bets for the week.

Make sure to get the most favorable odds at the best NFL betting sites to maximize your chances of winning and returns. Thus far, through nine full weeks of NFL action, these are my results:

  • Overall Record: 81 – 75 – 3 (11 NFL futures bets pending)
  • Winning Percentage: 51.9%
  • Total Profit: $435.50
  • Total Return: 3%

On Thursday night, we kick off the NFL’s Week 10 with a showdown between two teams that are surging as of late. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers head to Heinz Field where Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be waiting to defend their home turf. This game has excellent shootout potential, making it a particularly interesting start to the week for gamblers and fantasy players alike.

While the Panthers have been dominant in recent contests, they’ve historically struggled against the Steelers. Carolina has never won a game played in Pittsburgh, and have only beaten them once back in 1996, making the Panthers 1-5 all-time.

This matchup will feature two young running backs that can do it all, in James Conner and Christian McCaffrey. Both of these players have proven to be significant threats both running the ball and catching passes as a receiver. They’ll each get plenty of work on Thursday night in what’s a massive Week 10 game for both organizations.

The other matchup this primetime showcase will surely highlight is between the quarterbacks. Carolina’s Cam Newton has been tremendous this year, finishing in the top-ten of QB performances in six of his last seven starts. But, he’ll be facing Big Ben at home, where the Steelers’ veteran quarterback is known to raise his level of play significantly.

The road Panthers come into this one as four-point underdogs despite being 6-2 and playing extremely well as of late. This may be Pittsburgh’s last game without Le’Veon Bell, so expect a heavy dosage of James Conner, who will be fighting to secure his starting spot moving forward. This Thursday’s action will almost certainly be much better than the 49ers-Raiders beatdown from the week before.

Gambling Stats for Thursday Night’s Game

Sometimes you can find data to help with your handicapping that may not directly focus on the action on the field. Looking at how a team has traditionally performed against the spread can be worth analyzing as well. You can even take these meta stats further, looking for patterns in performances following losses, at home, and as favorites or underdogs. I was able to find these statistics at TeamRankings.com.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Pittsburgh is 5-3-0 against the spread, covering 62.5% of the time.
  • At home, they’re 2-2-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
  • As a home favorite, they’re 2-2-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
  • Following a win, Pittsburgh is 3-1-0 against the spread, covering 75% of the time.
  • Against non-conference opponents, the Steelers are 2-0-0 against the spread, covering 100% of the time.
  • Pittsburgh is 5-3-0 (62.5%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Following a win, the Steelers are 1-3-0 (25%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • As a home favorite, Pittsburgh is 3-1-0 (75%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • In non-conference games, the Steelers are 2-0-0 (100%) at covering the totals/over-under line.

Carolina Panthers

  • Carolina is 5-3-0 against the spread, covering 62.5% of the time.
  • On the road they’re 1-2-0 against the spread, covering 33.3% of the time.
  • As a road underdog, they’re 1-1-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
  • Following a win, Carolina is 2-3-0 against the spread, covering 40% of the time.
  • Against non-conference opponents, the Panthers are 2-0-0 against the spread, covering 100% of the time.
  • Carolina is 5-3-0 (62.5%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • Following a win, the Panthers are 4-1-0 (80%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
  • As a road underdog, Carolina is 1-1-0 (50%) at covering the totals/over-under line.

Away – Carolina Panthers (+4)

The Carolina Panthers enter Thursday night’s game at Heinz Field on a three-game winning streak. The difference maker for Cam Newton’s squad these past few weeks has been how they’ve taken care of the ball.

After their October 14 loss to the Redskins, in which they gave the ball away three times, the Panthers haven’t surrendered possession even once, a statistic with a strong correlation to their current string of wins. Meanwhile, the Steelers have been poor at creating turnovers during that same stretch, making this game perfect for a shootout through the air for Carolina.

The Panthers most potent weapon this season has been in the running game, where they’ve averaged 5.2 yards per carry, the best mark in the NFL. Pittsburgh is the sixth-ranked rush defense in the league, though I believe those numbers are inflated due to their competition. Shutting down the run games of Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Atlanta isn’t the same as stopping the duo of McCaffrey and Newton, both of which can wear defenses down and explode for quick touchdowns on any play.

Carolina is also getting tons of help from rookie contributors this year, both of whom they’ll need on Thursday. DJ Moore has steadily improved throughout the season, showing he was worth that first-round pick coming out of the slot. However it’s Donte Jackson, their second-round pick at cornerback who has really raised eyebrows. He’s only allowing a 68.1 quarterback passer rating when targeted, which they’ll need when he faces JuJu Smith-Schuster this week.

Injury Designations:

Out

  • WR – Torrey Smith (knee)
  • DE – Marquis Haynes (illness)

Questionable

  • C – Ryan Kalil (ankle)
  • DE – Mario Addison (shoulder)
  • S – Eric Reid (shoulder)
  • LB – David Mayo (groin)

Home – Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

Pittsburgh is currently 5-3-1, but have been on a four-game winning streak (against the spread as well) that has them looking like one of the elite teams in the AFC recently. All this week we’ve been hearing about the return of Le’Veon Bell, and while he isn’t back with the team quite yet, it will be interesting to see if the prospect of his return looms over this franchise as a distraction.

One player who will almost certainly have Bell’s return on his mind is James Conner. The rookie runner has been absolutely tremendous in the star back’s absence, which creates a bit of a conundrum for head coach Mike Tomlin. Conner leads the league in runs of 15-or-more yards, and has already amassed 706 rushing yards along with 379 more receiving, to put him over 1000 yards from scrimmage through ten weeks.

On Thursday, Conner will be up against a Panthers team known for their excellent linebacker play, led by All-Pro Luke Kuechley. This unit is the eighth best defense in the NFL at limiting rushing yardage, giving up only 94.1 yards per game, on average.

However, the Ravens defense was supposed to be stout against rushing attempts too, and that didn’t stop James from compiling 163 yards from scrimmage in a 23-16 beating of their division rivals in Baltimore. Perhaps he’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder with the prospect of Le’Veon returning to action next week.

Injury Designations:

Out

  • T – Marcus Gilbert (knee)
  • DT – Dan McCullers (ankle)
  • HB – Le’Veon Bell (fitness)

Fantasy Football Sit/ Start

In the past, I’ve stuck to sportsbook betting exclusively in my picks articles. But, with so much of the gambling public wagering through daily and even season-long fantasy, I’ve decided to share my sits and starts for the game as well.

Despite the historical difficulties the Panthers have had at Heinz Field, I think they’ve got just the roster to take the win on Thursday night. If they don’t, I at least expect this to be a close game that goes well over the totals line of 51.5 (probably 52 by gametime). With two decent run defenses, we should see plenty of throwing this week and I’m not sure either of these groups can stop the other’s offensive attack.

I’m seeing just about everyone as starter material in fantasy, with only a few small exceptions. These sit/start options reflect this prediction:

Start

  • Cam Newton – Panthers QB – Cam Newton has been on fire since the embarassing Redskins game four weeks ago. In six of his last seven starts he’s been a top-ten fantasy QB. Last week his output was somewhat disappointing considering the number of points scored against the Buccanneers, but I don’t anticipate him being kept out of the endzone two weeks in a row. In fact, I have a strong feeling he’ll be vultering more than one of McCaffrey’s goal line TD opportunities this week.
  • Christian McCaffrey – Panthers RB – Christian McCaffrey is a must -start player every week due to his usefulness in both the running and passing games. In PPR he’s been one of the top performers all year at the RB position, as he’s one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets. Some may be scared away by Pittsburgh’s defensive statistics against runners, but when you look at who they’ve played, there’s nobody like CMC on their resume.
  • Greg Olsen – Panthers TE – Since Greg Olsen’s return, Cam Newton has made it a priority to target one of his all-time favorite receivers. In the past three games he’s seen 15 targets and has scored three touchdowns. The Steelers allow the fifth-most points to the tight end position, making him an exciting Week 10 start.
  • Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers QB – Big Ben is playing at home, which means you want him in your starting lineup. Perhaps no player in the league has such discrepancies in their statistics between home games and away like Roethlisberger. In a meaningful primetime matchup, I expect to see the best version of Ben who is averaging 326.6 yards passing per game over his last sixteen contests.
  • Antonio Brown – Steelers WR – Surprisingly, Antonio Brown is having his worst season as a pro according to Pro Football Focus, though he leads the NFL in touchdown catches with nine. He’s still obviously a must-start player as he’s scored in seven of his eighth games this season.
  • James Conner – Steelers RB – Last week James Conner proved that he deserves a spot in the starting lineup regardless of which defense he’s facing. Conner is a force in both the passing and running games, and will surely be featured heavily in the gameplan with Le’Veon Bell soon returning. It seems Tomlin has been cognizant to give the rookie RB lots of opportunities in Bell’s absence, almost as a way of showing the disgruntled runner that the team has all of the leverage.
  • Juju Smith-Schuster – Steelers WR – Slot receivers have been producing at or above their expected scoring output all season against Carolina. This is advantageous for Juju who lines up inside on 79% of his snaps. He’ll have a significant size advantage over slot corner Captain Munnerlyn which the Steelers will look to exploit frequently on Thursday. Smith-Schuster should be especially deadly in the redzone due to this discrepancy in size.
  • Vance McDonald – Steelers TE – Vance McDonald has been a boom-or-bust tight end this year, but the targets show he’s still the man to own on the Steelers. He was targeted six times last week. Tight ends have caught 74% of their passes against this Panthers defense, gaining 414 yards and scoring six TDs.

Sit

  • James Washington – Steelers WR – Washington played 86% of Pittsburgh’s snaps last week, but still hasn’t become a viable fantasy started. He dropped a big pass against the Ravens, and has gained 25 yards or fewer in all six of his starts.
  • Jesse James – Steelers TE – Jesse James outperformed Vance McDonald last week which may trick some into thinking he’s the Steelers tight end to own. However, he was only targeted three times to McDonalds’ six, and only scored more due to a 51-yard touchdown.
  • DJ Moore – Panthers WR – I love DJ Moore in most weeks, but not against the Steelers defense. Mike Hilton has been locking down their slot coverage, ranking in the top-five for catch percentage and passer rating. This will be a tough matchup for the rookie receiver to win, and Cam will most likely look elsewhere for his production through the air.

Potential Sleepers

  • Devin Funchess – Panthers WR – Devin Funchess has been the Panthers’ most targeted receiver over the last three weeks with 19. He’s had some bad luck being robbed of touchdowns in back to back weeks, but those were fluky situations. I think his luck regresses back to the mean this week, and Funchess has a huge night in Pittsburgh.

Week 10 NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Picks

I’m not sure they’ll win, but I love the Carolina Panthers here to cover the spread. At the time of writing this article, the Panthers a four-point underdogs, though I can see that number sliding to 3.5 or even 3. If they drop to 3, I’d go with the Steelers, but anything higher than that number I’m all over Cam Newton and this surging Carolina team.

The NFL Thursday Night Picks

Panthers +4 at -115 betting odds

  • $115 to win $100

Over 51.5 total points at -112 betting odds

  • $112 to win $100.00

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