In a cutthroat league like the NFL, where today’s superstar can be tomorrow’s afterthought, seeing Cam Newton get back on the field with the Carolina Panthers — and then running in a touchdown, like he’d done a record (for a quarterback) 70 times previously — was truly a joyful moment.
Cam Newton scores in his first play back with the Panthers!
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 14, 2021
It’s rare you get to see an athlete come back to his first team, rarer still watching that athlete succeed.
But that was the story of Cam Newton last week, and you know what? I’m here for the rarest of rarities: I’m here to see Cam Newton lead the Panthers to the playoffs, and possibly, beyond.
Oh yeah. I am on the Panthers’ bandwagon, and you should be too. They’re 5-5, 1.5 games behind the Bucs in the NFC South. They have Washington at home this week, then they travel to Miami, then they have a bye, then they have the Falcons at home.
In short: There is every reason to expect this team could be 8-5 in a month’s time.
And why wouldn’t we expect this? Christian McCaffrey is healthy. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are would-be superstars with the right quarterback. The Carolina defense is third in Football Outsiders DVOA metric.
And let’s not forget Cam.
.@jeffedelstein's back, baby. And aboard the #Panthers bandwagon.
– Where else can you get the 'on-paper, no doubt, three-team teaser that’s bound to lose'
– #DraftKings DFS plays of the week, and more.
Column: ▶️🔗 https://t.co/bRMnJeU4xu pic.twitter.com/iJlSwJgOQu
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) November 19, 2021
He’s been more of a punching bag than superstar lately, but let’s look back. Last year, with the Patriots, he started out just fine the first three weeks of the season. He led the Patriots to a 2-1 start, with the loss coming in a shootout in Seattle. Then he got COVID, missed a game, and never got back on track. Is it possible, bordering on probable, COVID was the cause?
Go back to 2019: Two games, then Lisfranc fracture. Season over. 2018? The team started out 6-2, Newton was playing well, but then he and the team nosedived. It was later revealed he was playing through an injured shoulder, which required surgery after the season.
All in all, those are three lost years. Go back to 2017, his last full healthy season? The Panthers were 11-5, and Cam was busy doing Cam things. Let’s not forget: Cam Newton was — and still might be — one of the biggest difference-makers in the NFL.
Bottom line? It’s entirely possible that Cam Newton is not only not done, but also that he’s ready to dominate the game like he used to. The man is only 32, has fresh legs, and has demonstrated the ability to carry a team on his back.
Now he’s got — unarguably — the best offensive weapons he’s ever had and a stellar defense backing him up.
So yeah. I see 8-5 in the Panthers’ future. Then the team has to go to Buffalo, then home against Tampa, then to New Orleans, then to Tampa. Tough road to close out the year, but … well, but nothing. This team is talented, and can hang with the best of the league.
Cam’s back. Look out.
Oh, and by the way: You can get the Panthers over 7.5 wins on BetRivers at -130, to make the playoffs at +350 on BetRivers (and know that if the season ended today, they’d be the No. 7 seed), and you can get them to win the NFC South at +2700 (also at BetRivers).
Feeling super frisky? How about +12500 on BetMGM to win the NFC (the Giants are at +10000, for comparison purposes) and at +25000 on BetMGM to win the Super Bowl.
The +1000 or more parlay of the week
All right, still living off our Week 7, near +2000 hit that guarantees our profitability (assuming we bet the same $5 every week).
Oh, wait, I’m sorry — did I say five bucks? I meant $5,000. You know, because I’m a Rolex-wearin’, diamond ring-wearin’, kiss-stealin’, — whoo — wheelin’-dealin’, limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’ sonuvagun.
OK, fine, I’m not. I start getting palpitations when I bet more than $25 on any market. I’m more of a no-watch wearin’, wedding band-wearin’, is it OK if I kiss you — ahem, excuse me — couch-sittin’, Honda Odyssey-drivin’, coach-flyin’ suburban dad.
I also pronounce my “g’s,” if I’m being honest.
Anywho, lost last week — and it wasn’t pretty — so back to the well for this +1202 beaut, booked Thursday morning on BetMGM: over 45 in the Jets-Dolphins game at -110, the Panthers -3 over WFT at -115, the Bengals -1 over the Raiders at -105, and the Cardinals -2.5 at Seattle. (You can probably get a little better numbers elsewhere, but I had a free bet to burn, so there ya go.)
Rationale? The Jets and Dolphins aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts, the Jets never lay down, and — this is bad #analysis — but these two teams always play wacky games. As for the rest? Well, I think you know how I feel about the Panthers, and I think both the Bengals and Cardinals should be bigger favorites.
The on-paper, no doubt, three-team teaser that’s bound to lose
Down to 3-7 on the no-doubt teaser, as last week the Chargers bit me in the butt. Golly, I hate teasers, but I’m determined to turn this around.
Over to Caesars, where … I’m taking a five-team teaser for +400, have mercy on my soul. Bills -1 over the Colts, Panthers +2.5 over WFT, San Francisco at pick ‘em over the Jaguars, the Bengals +5 in Las Vegas, and the Cardinals +3.5 in Seattle.
I think I need another “whoo.”
Did I win the DraftKings Milly Maker?
I did not, but I finally booked a profitable Sunday over at DraftKings for the first time since 1937, so much joy all around.
DraftKings DFS play(s) of the week
Last week was wild, with the chalk cheap running backs hitting, but my trio of somewhat contraction running back picks — Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Najee Harris — mostly hit (well, Najee not so much, but the column was written before Big Ben got COVID). And Taylor and McCaffery almost blew the slate open, but “almost” is the worst word in DFS. Moving on then …
Some more chalk is gathering this week at the running back spot with Myles Gaskin, James Connor, and A.J. Dillon. While all three are fine plays, there are certainly numerous paths to these three busting. So which running backs are going to be low-owned and potential difference makers? Honestly, a lot. But Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Jonathan Taylor stand out. McCaffrey is McCaffrey, no one is playing Cook due to Dillon, and Taylor is on the road in Buffalo, which is an objectively terrible matchup, but it’s possible matchups don’t matter for Taylor.
Again, it’s a week to spend up to be contrarian, and if the chalk crumbles … look out.
Trap game of the week
I didn’t like the underdog slate last week but went with the Seahawks getting 3.5, which was looking OK for a bit but … nope. Down to 6-4 on the season.
This week? Again, nothing thrills me, but I’ll take the Giants getting 11 points Monday night at Tampa. The Bucs aren’t broken, obviously, but they’re also not quite firing on all cylinders. And while the Giants are bad, they will be coming into the game mostly healthy, rested, and with a ton of offensive weapons at the ready. Bottom line, 11 points is a lot. Gimme the G-men. Eeek.
Player props I like
Would’ve booked a solid week last week, as I hit on the Tyreek Hill reception prop and Dalvin Cook’s carry prop, but lost by a half-yard on the Javonte Williams yardage prop and Mike Williams remained AWOL.
This week? The Carolina trend continues here, where Cam Newton is +140 to score a touchdown. Yes please. I also like the under 77.5 rushing + receiving prop on Michael Carter — Joe Flacco isn’t a dump-off champ and Tevin Coleman is getting snaps. And lastly, back to Carolina, Christian McCaffrey over 115.5 rushing + receiving.
My mortal lock five-star only for my best customers can’t lose guaranteed best bet of the week
Up to 6-4 here, as the Bills more than covered the 11 points against the Jets. As for this week? Come on. Panthers -3. Was there ever a doubt? I’m baaaaaack!