We’re back to close out Week 15 with a Monday Night Football matchup featuring one team playing for its playoff life, and another team just sort of puttering along. The 5-8 Carolina Panthers travel to face 7-5-1 Washington on ESPN, with kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT. Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden will call the game from the booth, and Lisa Salters will have reports from the sideline.
Washington currently holds the second NFC wild card spot with a record of 7-5-1. A win over the Panthers essentially gives them a game lead over the 8-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers thanks to their tie. Meanwhile, the 5-8 Panthers are technically still alive in the wild card chase. If they win, they will be two back of the Bucs and Packers, who will be tied ahead of Washington for the final spot. And with Carolina traveling to face Tampa in Week 17, it leaves a slim hope alive.
Washington is a touchdown favorite. The big storyline in this one is Josh Norman facing off against his former team. I picked Washington to cover a 6.5-point spread. I think they probably cover the full touchdown as well (as opposed to a push), but I’d much prefer having that half-point hook.