Saints vs. Panthers – ATS Analysis and Free Pick – 12/29/19

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New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers Week 17 NFL Betting Analysis

New Orleans Saints (12-3 10-5 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (5-10 6-8-1 ATS)

The Saints head to Carolina as a huge 13-point favorite over the reeling Panthers with a total sitting at 46.

The spread for this NFC South matchup has not changed since opening while the total opened at 48 and as of Thursday is 46.

The Saints won the NFC South title a few weeks back and they are currently in the 3rd seed for the NFC playoffs. They have the same record as the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers but those teams have the tiebreaker, so for New Orleans to get in the top two seeds and get a first-round bye one or both of those teams have to lose.

The Panthers are in a tailspin, losers of seven straight games and in their last game they were throttled losing 38-6 to the Indianapolis Colts. Their defense has fallen apart giving up an average of 32 ppg in their last seven games.

A few weeks back in the Big Easy the Saints beat the Panthers 34-31.

New Orleans has won two in a row and five of their last six games.

The Panthers have covered the spread in their last four games against the Saints.

Saints Rebound after Slow Start

In the Saints’ last game, they beat the Tennessee Titans 38-28 where they were outscored 14-0 in the first quarter but then outscored the Titans 38-10 the rest of the game.

Drew Brees passed for 279 yards with three TD and no INT in the win over the Titans and Michael Thomas, who leads the NFL in receiving yards by a wide margin, had 136 receiving yards.

Alvin Kamara rushed for 80 yards in the win over Tennessee and also caught six passes for 30 yards.

Brees has 12 TD and no INT in his last three games and in the win over the Panthers a few weeks back passed for 311 yards with three TD and no INT.

I mentioned that the Carolina defense has fallen apart in the last several games and on the season they rank a respectable 13th in the league against the run but 2nd to last in the league against the pass.

Special Teams’ Defense Helps as Well

Not only has Carolina’s defense struggled overall in their losing seven in a row but their special teams’ D was bad in their 38-6 loss to the Colts in their last game giving up two TD’s on punt returns.

The Panthers were only outgained 324 yards to 286 yards, but the two punt returns for scores hurt and they had three turnovers while not forcing any.

Rookie Will Grier will get the start in this game for the Panthers and made his first NFL start in the bad loss to the Colts. It was far from a good debut and while he did pass for 224 yards he had no TD and three INT and was sacked five times.

Christian McCaffery rushed for 54 yards averaging 4.2 yards per carry in the loss to the Colts and had 15 catches for 119 yards. Look for the Panther to lean on him heavily in this game, as if Grier did not do much at all passing the ball down the field in the Indy game.

New Orleans gave up nearly 400 total yards in the win over the Titans and while they rank 5th in the league defending the run they only rank 17th defending the pass.

Our Prediction

While the Saints have failed to cover in their last four games facing the Panthers they have been a good bet for most of the season. They did not cover in the earlier matchup with the Panthers, but Carolina is down to their 3rd string QB and their defense has been torched in the last few games.

Look for New Orleans to defend McCaffery well in this game and that will be key. With him not doing much Carolina will not be able to stay with the Saints, who will easily win this game and cover even giving 13 points on the road.

PICK: Saints -13