McCaffrey’s return makes Carolina the best bet in Week One

  • The Carolina Panthers are two-point favorites when they host the Cleveland Browns to open the season.
  • The main storyline according to many is Baker Mayfield taking the field against his former team, but for betting purposes, it is much more important that Christian McCaffrey plays.
  • Carolina has been one of the worst teams in the NFL when McCaffrey has missed time, but when he plays, he has been a huge factor in the Panthers winning games and covering spreads.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield leads the Carolina Panthers into their Week One matchup up against his former team as a two-point home favorite.

The Browns enter the season with +4000 odds to win Super Bowl 57, which are considerably shorter than the Panthers’ +12500 odds, but that is largely due to the return of DeShaun Watson from suspension in Week 13.

It is because of Watson’s absence that the Panthers open as favorites.

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Cleveland Browns +2.0 (-105) +120 O 41.5 (-110)
Carolina Panthers -2.0 (-115) -140 U 41.5 (-110)

Baker Mayfield’s revenge game may be the most obvious story for the game, but for betting purposes, the most important player is Christian McCaffrey.

Betting on Christian McCaffrey in Week One

Everyone is aware of how elite Christian McCaffrey is as a player, it is largely why many fantasy football rankings have him as a top option in drafts despite him playing in ten games over the past two seasons.

An underutilized edge that can be gained when betting on the Carolina Panthers versus Cleveland Browns match-up is how effective Carolina has been when he has played over the past two seasons.

Two key betting trends on the Carolina Panthers have emerged based on McCaffrey over the course of recent history:

  • Last Season’s Betting Splits: McCaffrey played in seven games last season and the Panthers went 4-3 both straight up(SU) and against the spread(ATS). In the ten games he missed, Carolina went 1-9 ATS and SU. That means they were an above-average team when he played and quite possibly the worst team in football when he sat.
  • Home Betting Splits: The Panthers have played six home games with CMC over the past two seasons. They have gone a paltry 2-4 ATS/SU. That does not look nearly as bad as their 2-9 ATS/SU split without him. Given the overall poor 4-13 ATS record the Panthers have had over the past two seasons, it may be likely that bettors are getting Carolina at a discounted rate as a two-point favorite.
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