In a 4:25 p.m. start on FOX, the Dallas Cowboys kickoff their 2018 regular season schedule with an NFC clash against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Cowboys start the new season as +400 second-favorites to win the NFC East this season after going 9-7 straight-up last year. They were 8-7-1 against the spread at BetAnySports and the total stayed UNDER in eight of their final nine games of the 2017 season. Dallas went winless in the preseason with a 1-3 record ATS. The total stayed UNDER in three of those four exhibition games.
Both Dak Prescott at quarterback and Ezekiel Elliott at running back enter their third season’s in the NFL with quite a bit of pressure on their backs. This duo led the Cowboys to 13 wins and a division title in their rookie seasons before falling back to earth in their sophomore campaigns. The pressure will also be dialed up on a defense that also took a step backwards last year.
Carolina bounced back from a six-win effort in 2016 with a SU 11-5 record last year to earn one of two wild card spots in the NFC playoffs. It actually lost a tie-breaker with New Orleans for the NFC South title. BetAnySports has listed the Panthers at +275 odds to win the division this season behind New Orleans and Atlanta. Their record ATS last year was 9-6-1 with the total going OVER in nine of the 16 games. They lost to the Saints 31-26 in their first playoff game, but covered as 6.5-point road underdogs. Carolina was 3-1 (SU and ATS) in the preseason.
The Panthers’ chances to get back on top in the NFC South still hinge on the play of Cam Newton at quarterback along with the overall play of their defense . The addition of running back Christian McCaffrey in the 2017 draft was an added weapon in the backfield, but Newton still led the team in rushing last season. Carolina drafted wide receiver DJ Moore out of Maryland with the 24thoverall pick of this year’s draft to give Cam an added target in the passing game.
Each of these teams start the new season with something to prove. This should actually be an entertaining game for all four quarters, but in the end, I am going with Carolina to cover at home.