Here’s everything you need to know about this Week 16 matchup.
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
When: Sunday, December 23rd at 1:00 p.m. ET
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 93 or online at Audio Pass
Will Carolina cover the spread?
Spread: Carolina -9.5, according to Odds Shark
If the Panthers were favored by -9.5 against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14 and at the San Diego Chargers in Week 15, they would’ve covered each time. There’s no reason to believe they won’t do so against the less talented Raiders at home.
Over/Under: 45.5, according to Odds Shark
Carolina has dropped at least 30 points each of the last two weeks. Given that the Raiders surrender more points than anyone, the Panthers are likely to keep up their impressive pace.
But will the same Raiders who failed to find pay dirt against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs be able to push the combined final score over 45.5? With Carolina surrendering an average of 22.8, they should be able to.
Oakland S Tyvon Branch is questionable with a neck and ankle injury.
Oakland WR Juron Criner is questionable with a hip injury.
Oakland DT Richard Seymour is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Carolina LB Thomas Davis is probable with a non-injury.
Carolina WR Brandon LaFell is questionable with turf toe.
Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart is questionable with an ankle injury.
Carolina DT Dwan Edwards is questionable with a wrist injury.
Carolina LB James Anderson is questionable with a back injury.
Fantasy Big Plays
Oakland: RB Darren McFadden
McFadden is averaging a devastating 2.0 yards per carry less than he did last season.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start him against the Panthers.
McFadden rushed for 110 yards on 30 carries last week. Oakland obviously made it a priority to feed him the rock. Carson Palmer doesn’t want a piece of the Panthers’ 10th-ranked pass defense so the Raiders will continue to give McFadden the football.
Carolina: WR Steve Smith
No one has benefited from Newton blowing up more than Smith.
Two of his three receiving touchdowns on the season have come in the past three weeks—and the same can be said about his only two 100-yard receiving performances in the second half of the season.
But against the Raiders’ 27th-ranked pass defense, there’ll be more where that came from.
Keys to an Oakland Win
Oakland must somehow, someway slow down Newton.
Over the past five weeks, he’s amassed over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and has an average passer rating of well over 100.0. Let’s just say the Raiders’ league-worst defense needs to learn how to bend but not break.
And no, their shutout against the pitiful Chiefs is no reason for optimism.
Keys to a Carolina Win
Carolina has to just keep doing what it’s been doing the past couple of weeks. The Panthers have won three of their last four by playing through Newton on offense. And as long as they continue to do that, Oakland won’t be able to stop them.
Neither team has anything to play for. The difference is that Oakland just wants what’s been a miserable season to come to an end. Carolina, on the other hand, is too hot to want to stop.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.