The NFL preseason ends this weekend, and that historically has meant two things.
One, the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Carolina Panthers. Secondly, it is the last chance for players competing for spots on the season-opening 53-day roster to make an impression.
Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs get their opportunity to show they should be the Steelers’ third quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph in Friday night’s game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Haskins will start and be followed by Dobbs. Coach Mike Tomlin has not said how he will divide the playing time.
So, let’s preview the Steelers-Panthers game with odds, picks, and predictions.
Current lines for Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers +4 (-105), Carolina Panthers -4 (-115).
Moneyline: Steelers (+180), Panthers (-220)
Over/Under: 35 (O -105), (U -115)
Steelers-Panthers Betting Prediction
Haskins and Dobbs both obviously have reasons to want to play well. The loser of their battle for QB3 will likely find himself on the waiver wire after the final roster cutdown next Tuesday.
Haskins has completed 28 of 42 passes in the first three exhibitions for 271 yards and one touchdown. Dobbs is 9 of 12 for 67 yards and one TD. Dobbs has been intercepted once, and Haskins has not been picked off.
Panthers coach Matt Ruhle plans to play most of his starters for most of the first half, which should give the Steelers a better picture of what Haskins and Dobbs have to offer if pressed into action during the regular season.
Last season, the Panthers’ defense was middle-of-the-pack, finishing 15th among the 32 NFL teams in both points and total yards allowed.
On the other side of the ball, Panthers starting quarterback Sam Darnold will be facing primarily Steelers’ reserves. Looking to jumpstart his career after three mainly forgettable seasons with the New York Jets, Darnold has played only one series in the preseason.
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The Steelers-Panthers Bets We Love
Pittsburgh Steelers +4 (-105 – DraftKings)
Even though the Steelers are going to the lower half of their quarterback depth chart in this one, the difference between Haskins/Dobbs and Darnold is not huge.
Darnold has been a bust since the Jets drafted him third overall in 2018. It is also instructive to note that the Panthers’ top offensive threat, running back Christian McCaffrey, is expected to play only sparingly, if at all.
Furthermore, Panthers backup quarterbacks Will Grier and Phillip Walker don’t inspire much confidence, and that should help the Steelers at least get under the number if not win outright.
Under 35 (-110 – MGM Grand)
Perhaps our favorite Steelers bets here. The Steelers aren’t going to play their top two quarterbacks against the Panthers’ first-string defense. Carolina has the uninspiring trio of Darnold, Grier, and Walker at QB.
This has the feeling of a low-scoring – and boring – wrap-up to the preseason.
Steelers 14, Panthers 10