The Carolina Panthers are one of four remaining undefeated NFL teams at the end of Week 8, and they can improve to 7-0 on Monday night. They’ll host the Indianapolis Colts with a chance to take a 1.5-game lead in the NFC South.
Carolina hasn’t gotten much respect in 2015 as one of the league’s best teams, though they are favored on Monday. They are giving the Colts 6.5 points at Las Vegas sportsbooks, as Indianapolis enters the contest at 3-4.
Experts tabbed the Colts to win the AFC South, but they no longer appear to have a lock on the division. A loss for Indianapolis would mean a tie for first place with the Houston Texans.
A shoulder injury has prevented Andrew Luck from playing two games this season, but that reportedly wasn’t the only issue the quarterback was dealing with. According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, Luck broke multiple ribs earlier this season, suffering the injury when he was forced to miss consecutive games. Luck is reportedly fully recovered from the injury, and he might not have missed any practice time if his shoulder wasn’t hurt.
In his fourth season, Luck hasn’t played this poorly since he was a rookie. He’s thrown 11 touchdown passes and nine interceptions after throwing 40 scores and 16 picks last season. Luck’s 76.2 passer rating is 31st in the NFL, though his numbers are improving now that he’s getting healthy. The signal caller has thrown for 645 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in his last two games. The Colts are tied for 21st in points per game, having ranked sixth last season.
Carolina’s quarterback has been healthy all year, and he’s been mentioned in the early MVP discussion, despite putting up unimpressive passing numbers. Cam Newton’s 78.4 passer rating is not much better than Luck’s, and he’s thrown for just 1,275 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions in six games. But he’s added 245 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns, leading the Panthers to a perfect record.
Newton will likely be without his starting center, as Ryan Kalil is listed as questionable. Kalil hasn’t missed a start since 2012, and Fernando Velasco is likely to get the start. Defensive end Mario Addison and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards won’t play on Monday night. Shaq Thompson has been listed as "doubtful."
The game starts at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. A free live stream is available online with WatchESPN.