By: Jason Green
Carolina Panthers (8-3 SU 7-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (8-3 SU 7-4 ATS)
The Panthers have won Four in a row and with the Saints having the same record the winner of this Game will all-alone in first place in the NFC South. They have put up 80 points in their last two Games, but are still led by their defense, which ranks 8th in the league giving up an average of 18.8 ppg. Rookie Christian McCaffrey is listed as questionable for this Game and if he cannot go it will be a big blow to the offense since he has done it all this season.
At 5 dimes sportsbook the Saints are the 4.5-point favorite with a total of 48.
The Saints had their eight-Game win streak snapped in their last Game and while they are only a 4.5-point home favorite they beat the Panthers by 21 points early in the season at Carolina. New Orleans finally has balance, as Drew Brees has not had to carry the team with his arm and the defense has been pretty solid as well.
The Saints have covered the spread in their last five Games facing the Panthers.
The Panthers beat the New York Jets 35-27 in their last Game where they needed a comeback for the win. They did have 35 points, but the offense was not the key late in the Game, as Carolina ran back a fumble for a TD and they scored on a punt return. They had nearly 100 fewer yards than the Jets (391-299), but they had a good Game on the ground and some big plays late. Cam Newton only passed for 168 yards and while he did not have a TD he was not picked off as well. McCaffrey led the team with 62 rushing yards and if he cannot play in this Game the other players in the backfield have to step up and help Newton out.
New Orleans ranks 14th in the league in pass defense and 18th in run defense and it will be key if they can stop the run in this Game.
In their last Game the Saints had their win streak snapped losing to the L.A. Rams 26-20 in LA LA LAnd. They were out-gained 415 yards to 346 yards and while they defended the run well and forced the Game’s only turnover they still took the loss. They were lit up in the air giving up 327 passing yards. Brees passed for 246 yards with a TD and no INT and RB Alvin Kamara had a big Game leading the team with 101 receiving yards and 87 rushing yards including a 74-yard TD gallop.
In the earlier match-up between these teams Carolina was held to 288 total yards and they had three turnovers and did not force any.
Carolina ranks in the top six in the league in pass and run defense and if they can run the ball well and avoid the turnover they have a great shot at a win in the Big Easy.
The Panthers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road Games, and in their last 12 road Games facing a team with a winning record the Over record is 9-3.
The Saints are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 Games, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Games facing teams from the NFC South, and in their last 19 home Games the Over record is 13-5-1.
Jason’s Pick: This one is a tough one to call with the status of McCaffrey in limbo. Still, even with him in the lineup the Saints will get the W. Brees will have a good Game and the defense will keep Newton and company in check. This division match-up will not a be a blowout, but New Orleans will win, cover the spread, and be alone in first place in the NFC South.