NFL Week 15 Picks: An Upset Brewing In Indy?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)

All week, the Buccaneers looked like a sneaky pick to upset the suddenly awoken Panthers. That was, until quarterback Cam Newton was involved in a car crash, rendering him unavailable for Sunday’s game. Why should this news shift the pick towards the Panthers instead of away from them? How is Cam Newton missing a game a benefit to the team?

With a 3-8-1 record in games in which Newton has started, how is it not?

Cam Newton burst on the scene in 2011 with a prolific 4,000 yard season. His team promptly won six games. His sophomore year was a bit more human — 3,869 yards and 19 touchdowns, but a nice improvement in ball security — still, the team won only seven games. Finally, in 2013, the Panthers broke through for twelve wins. Again, in Newton’s twelve starts, this season, Carolina has three wins and a tie.

Maybe Cam Newton will return to the electric form we saw a few years ago. Maybe he is the best man to lead a team over the course of a season. But Derek Anderson — with as many double-digit win seasons as Newton — has already proven he is a viable option to lead the Panthers in a given game. Especially, against the Buccaneers.

Anderson’s only start, this season, came as a last-minute public announcement on Opening Day. At the time, the Panthers had entered the week as a slight underdog. Immediately after the news hit, people jumped ship to Tampa Bay almost instantly. Carolina won by six.

Don’t get fooled again.

Most quarterbacks have an impact over a long stretch of time — Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury. Some quarterbacks have an impact over a stretch of a few plays — Tony Romo‘s short absence against the Redskins. Carolina doesn’t need Superman this week. It needs an experienced veteran to fill in against an atrocious opponent.

The Panthers win by a touchdown and cover.

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