Carolina Panthers vs Indianapolis Colts: Preview, Prediction & Odds - August 15, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 1 p.m. ET; Aug. 15, 2021
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Where to watch: NFL Network

2020 season results
Panthers: 5-11 (3rd place, NFC South)
Colts: 11-5 (2nd place, AFC South; lost wild card vs. Buffalo)

Statistical leaders in 2020


Panthers:
Passing: Teddy Bridgewater -- 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing: Mike Davis -- 642 yards, 6 touchdowns
Receiving: D.J. Moore -- 1,193 yards, 4 touchdowns
Tackles: Jeremy Chinn (117)
Sacks: Brian Burns (9)
Interceptions: Donte Jackson (3)

Colts:
Passing: Philip Rivers -- 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing: Jonathan Taylor -- 1,169 yards, 11 touchdowns
Receiving: T.Y. Hilton -- 762 yards, 5 touchdowns
Tackles: Darius Leonard (132)
Sacks: DeForest Buckner (9.5)
Interceptions: Kenny Moore (4)

Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Colts -1.5, Panthers +1.5
BetMGM: Colts -1.5, Panthers +1.5
FanDuel: Colts -1.5, Panthers +1.5

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Panthers - Colts preview


Safe to say it’s nervous time for the Indianapolis Colts. No Carson Wentz, no Quenton Nelson for, they hope, until Week 1.

The Colts would like to have their new No. 1 quarterback and all-pro center in the fold, but it’s all hands on deck for the time being. Indianapolis’ hopes of finding out begins Sunday when they welcome the Carolina Panthers to Lucas Oil Stadium for the teams’ preseason opener.

Indy’s offense is undergoing a huge overhaul, and all eyes are on Wentz, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback that was acquired to fill the one-year hole left by Philip Rivers. The former No. 2 overall pick is Colts coach Frank Reich’s newest reclamation project, but foot surgery could have him out anywhere between 5-12 weeks, but the Colts are hopeful he’ll be ready for Week 1.

Same goes for Nelson, Indy’s top offensive lineman who not only excels in protecting the quarterback, but creating holes for top back Jonathan Taylor. Having both healthy will be important to the Colts looking to rebound after being eliminated by the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card game last season.

With Wentz out, first-team reps are being split between second-year QB Jacob Eason and former Texas Longhorn signal caller Sam Ehlinger. This will be a chance for the Colts to develop another receiver outside of T.Y. Hilton, whether it be a Zach Pascal or Parris Campbell.

Opposite the Colts will be a new-look Panthers team going with another quarterback in another year, but it’s a high-risk situation in believing Sam Darnold will be the answer for the future. After moving on from Teddy Bridgewater one year from a mega-millions deal, the hope is Darnold finds new ground away from New York.

One thing that’ll help is the return of Christian McCaffrey. The star running back missed 13 games last year due to multiple injuries. The Panthers’ top playmaker, both a threat catching the ball and running between the tackles, returns to an offense that saw D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson having 1,000-yard seasons a year ago.

Last year was a matter of not finding the endzone enough with a middle-of-the run defense. The Panthers’ secondary got a facelift with drafting defensive back Jaycee Horn in the first round to play opposite of veteran A.J. Bouye in hopes of getting some more takeaways.

Trends


Dating back to last season, the Panthers are 6-0 against the spread in their last six occurrences while being the road underdog. Overall, the Panthers are 7-0 against the spread overall in their last seven road contests.

As for the Colts, the betting world is not kind at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts are 1-5 against the spread as a home favorite, which seems baffling. The road team is 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings between Carolina and Indianapolis.

Prediction


A couple of things to keep in mind here.

No. 1: What will the Colts look like from the reserve standpoint? The backup quarterback battle from Eason and Ehlinger is going to be interesting. Ehlinger’s transition to the professional game in itself will be intriguing. He was such a weird commodity at Texas that it was always curious if his run-pass game could translate.

No. 2: Darnold and how much he plays. This is a big moment for the Panthers in hoping they have the right quarterback for the future. If Darnold struggles in the preseason, it’s not to say they’ll go to Will Grier again, but what a flop this would be if it somehow doesn’t come to pass. To go from Cam Newton, to Bridgewater, to now Darnold is a huge contrast in quarterbacks.

As for the game itself, keep on the trend of the road team being the dominant one here. Panthers 27-17.

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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