The Carolina Panthers, for just the second time this season, are coming off of a win. Once again, it was a last-second victory, as they took down the division-rival Atlanta Falcons. They’ll look to ride that momentum to another win over the Green Bay Packers, who are suddenly reeling after a pair of losses that could prove devastating to their playoff hopes. With motivation levels high on both sides this Christmas Eve, let’s get into some player prop picks and odds for this Sunday (12/24/23) matchup.
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Let’s see how hot performer Jordan Love does against a quietly strong Panthers pass defense, while Carolina’s extremely run-heavy approach might actually pay off this week against Green Bay.
Jordan Love Over 0.5 Interceptions (-135)
The in-season turnaround from Jordan Love in his first full season as Green Bay’s starter has been tremendous. After starting the year as one of the league’s worst quarterbacks, he’s started to play some much better football over the past month or so. He’s had a triple-digit passer rating in four of his last five games, with a surprising stinker mixed in against the New York Giants.
Unfortunately for Love and Green Bay, this could be another rough game from his perspective. The Packers are severely banged up in terms of pass catchers, as neither top wideout Christian Watson nor rookie breakout performer Jayden Reed are practicing, and both are going to be out or severely limited on Sunday. Dontayvion Wicks has been a limited participant, as is key pass-catching running back Aaron Jones, while Romeo Doubs is active but playing relatively poorly.
Despite all of those injuries, the Packers should still be throwing. The running game is diminished too with the Jones injury and very poor play from AJ Dillon, and I’m not convinced that they’ll pull away enough on the road to turn to the run and drain clock.
Meanwhile, Carolina’s pass defense has put in some really good performances over the past couple of weeks, as excellent but oft-injured top corner Jaycee Horn has returned to the lineup. For the season, they’re a solid 17th in DVOA against the pass despite little complementary play from the run defense and no real pass rush.
This is a great opportunity to sell high on Love as a turnover preventer. He’s only thrown one pick in his last five games, but he’s committed four turnover-worthy plays in the last two weeks according to PFF. With the potential for a higher workload than some may expect, and a deceptively tough matchup, expect Love to turn it over in this one.
Tucker Kraft Over 37.5 Yards (-115)
This one goes hand in hand with much of the analysis for the Love prop. Obviously, if Love is throwing more times than the sportsbooks expect him to, that’s a good thing for receiving overs as well. But Kraft might be in a particularly strong position to contribute. As a tight end, he’s not going to have to deal with Horn, who will most likely be tending to wide receivers. Of course, the injuries to other Green Bay pass catchers will create more opportunities for the ones that remain healthy and on the field, so Kraft should expect a very solid target share against Carolina.
Kraft has cleared this number comfortably in two of his past three outings as other options have not been available, while in the third game, he came up just a yard short with a total of 37. If you want to play his receptions prop, that wouldn’t be a bad angle either. Once again, he’s been over the number of 3.5 in two of his past three games, with the one outlier being a three-catch performance, in which he still had six targets.
Chuba Hubbard Over 71.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
Over the past few games, the Panthers have shifted to an extremely run-heavy offense, even when frequently trailing, as some have noted that they are seemingly attempting to “run out the clock” on their season. Hubbard has run the ball over 20 times in each of Carolina’s past three contests, a workload he hadn’t received in any of his previous outings this year.
In those games, his rushing yardage totals 104, 87 and 87 again, all of which were comfortably beyond this number. This could look like buy-high malpractice, but Hubbard could perform a bit worse and still hit the over. There’s no reason to believe that this would be the week Hubbard’s volume goes back to his early season numbers.
Green Bay’s run defense is terrible – 26th in DVOA, 20th in EPA and 22nd in success rate. The best players are on the edges, so the interior rushing tactics that Carolina so enjoys will be wide open. Their air defense is bad too, but if the run is a viable option, expect Carolina to emphasize that approach. Even in a win over a Falcons team with a horrible air defense, the Panthers were a run-first squad, so don’t expect this week to be any different.
Eddy Pineiro Over 1.5 Field Goals Made (+110)
Pineiro cracked this number in each of the Panthers’ past two games after previously experiencing a bit of a drought. Carolina’s offense hasn’t picked up a touchdown over that time, and they probably aren’t about to turn into a juggernaut overnight.
As we’ve already discussed, the Panthers have a great opportunity to run the ball successfully and keep the chains moving. But their red-zone offense is still really poor. They’re 29th in red-zone efficiency, as they’ve scored on 45.45% of their drives inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Green Bay defense is ninth in the same metric with a rate of just over 51%. Long drives that stall out are a perfect recipe for field goals, so expect a nice day from Pineiro.