There will be no real Watchtower today.
I had to choose between a late, rushed gameday Watchtower of the Panthers (skipping Green Bay), and doing up Thanksgiving right with an early-week Watchtower and some good solid Thanksgiving postin'.
I chose the latter.
This is a very strange game. The 6-3 Lions are hosting the 2-7 Panthers; by those bare facts alone this game has should be an easy victory.
If you're reading this, you know there's plenty to worry about.
SRS, my favorite predictive tool, rates the Lions at +8.7; the Panthers at -5.1. Add two point for home field advantage, and the Lions should be expected to win by two touchdowns. Of course, we're left with the Jekyll -and-Hyde problem: will these be the Lions that slaughtered the Broncos, or got slaughtered by the Bears?
Assuming they split the difference, the Lions are averaging 28.0 points per game, still 4th-best in the NFL. They're gaining 6.57 yards per attempt, and 4.1 per carry. The Panthers are allowing a whopping 26.3 points per game, 3rd-worst. They're allowing a massive 7.93 yards per attempt, and 4.7 yards per carry on the ground.
The averages say the Lions should tally 37-42 points, passing for 7.50-8.0 YpA, and rushing for 4.25-4.50 YpC.
The defense is, technically, allowing 20.4 points per game 12th-best in the NFL--though that includes the raft of defensive and special teams points they didn't actually "allow" last week.
The Panthers offense is moving the all through the air at an impressive clip: 7.93 YpA. They're also running like gangbusters, picking up 5.9 YpC. However, that's all adding up to just 21.1 PpG. Sacks, turnovers, and penalties have severely limited Carolina's ability to convert all that yardage into points--and since that's Detroit's defensive calling card, that plays right into the Lions' hands. I project Carolina to score 17-21 points, passing for 7.0-7.50 YpA, and rushing for 5.0-5.25 YpC.
What can I say? The numbers say this should be an unmitigated tail-whooping, and the last time the numbers said that, it happened. Knowing I could well look foolish, I'll project a 38-17 Lions win..