This Sunday the Carolina Panthers (1-1) will host the Cincinnati Bengals (2-0). Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST at Bank of America Stadium and will be televised locally on CBS.

Carolina opened as a 3-point home favorite and that’s where the line stands right now, as it appears to be pretty even action on both sides. The total for this one has been set at 43.5 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 3 NFL odds and for more links to our game previews.

Bengals vs Panthers NFL Free Pick & Vegas Odds

Cincinnati improved to 2-0 to start out 2018, as they held on for a 34-23 win at home against the Ravens in Week 2. For those that don’t remember, the Bengals won by the exact same score in Week 1 at Indianapolis. Cincinnati was a pick’em in both of those games as well. It’s almost the exact opposite start than last year, when the Bengals opened 0-2 and had just 9 points (3 field goals) to their name.

Carolina knocked off the Cowboys 16-8 as a 3-point home favorite in Week 1, but couldn’t keep pace with Matty Ryan and the Falcons offense in Week 2, falling 24-31 as a 5-point dog. It was a really slow start for the offense. While the Panthers finished with a respectable 439 total yards, they had just 157 yards with less than 2 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. Cam Newton threw for 335 yards and 3 scores, while Christian McCaffrey led the way with 14 catches for 102 yards.

NFL Betting Preview & Game Predictions: Panthers -3

My early lean here would be to lay the points with Carolina at home. I just think now is the time to sell-high on Cincinnati after their 2-0 start. While I’m not the least bit surprised to see the Bengals start out 2-0, they could have easily lost Week 1 at Indy (trailed 23-10 in the 2nd half) and had a huge scheduling advantage playing at home on a short week last Thursday agains the Ravens.

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As for the Panthers, I was really impressed with how well they played in Week 1 at home against the Cowboys and not the least bit surprised to see them lose at Atlanta. I think it could be an ongoing trend where Carolina ends up being a great team to back at home and one to stay away from on the road.

One of the biggest keys here for me is the injury to Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon, who is out at least 2-3 weeks. Mixon had 95 yards rushing and 54 receiving in the win over the Colts and 84 on the ground against a good Ravens defense. He hurt his knee in that game against Baltimore and the offense just didn’t look as good without him on the field. Cincinnati also figures to be without starting center Billy Price. I just don’t see the offense being able to do much of anything here against this Panthers defense.

As for the Bengals defense, I think they have really benefited early from playing two teams that don’t have much in the way of a running game. Carolina’s averaging over 130 ypg on the ground and I think the ability to run the ball is going to allow them to wear down Cincinnati’s defense and put this game away in the 2nd half.

Panthers are 21-10 ATS as a home favorite with Cam Newton under center and a ridiculous 20-3 ATS off a road loss under head coach Ron Rivera. Give me Carolina -3.