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Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints Betting Lines - Prediction ATS

Carolina Panthers (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST
Where:  Mercedes-Benz Superdome 
TV: FOX
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, JHSportsline.com

Point Spread:CAR -3/N.O. +3
Over/Under Total:53 

With two weeks to get ready, the New Orleans Saints will look win consecutive games for this first time season in this crucial NFC South matchup. This is a big division game for both teams as they try to climb back to the .500 mark. The Saints are a bit closer, thanks to a 35-34 come-from-behind victory as 3.5-point road dogs against the Chargers two weeks ago. New Orleans was outgained by 71 yards and sit 2-3 ITS (in the stats) this season. The Panthers hope to have Cam Newton back for this contest after losing with backup quarterback Derek Anderson 17-14 as 6-point home favorites on Monday Night Football. Carolina improved to 4-1 ITS this season after outgaining the Buccaneers by 99 yards. Carolina is now 8-2 ITS in their last 10 games dating back to last season. Unfortunately for Panthers' fans, they don't have much to show for it.

I sure can see why the odds-makers chose to make Carolina favored by a FG. The Panthers have the better offense and defense. The Panthers are allowing 341 yards per game and 5.7 yards per play. The Saints are allowing 422.8 yards per play and 6.5 yards per play. Not good. The good news is that Saints have played one less game and this is still a relatively small sample size. On offense, the Saints have a chance with 386 yards per game while averaging 5.8 yards per play. Carolina has been even better which is a little shocking. The Panthers are averaging 392 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play. Pretty good for a 1-4 team. Turnovers have really cost the Panthers some victories this year. They check in with a minus -7 turnover differential, including 4 giveaways last Monday Night. The Saints are plus +1, which is a far cry from what they were last season through their first four games.  

The Panthers' offensive line allowed no sacks in that loss and will be key going forward. They are ranked No. 22 in pass protection, but have been fantastic in the running game with a No. 4 ranking at Football Outsiders. If Jonathan Stewart returns (he's probable), that should help schematically against a Saints' defense that is allowing 121.5 rushing yards per game. The Panthers' offense is very tough to stop when Cam Newton is under center and the running game is clicking. Cam is one of the best quarterbacks I've seen run the read option. It's going to be tough for this Saints' defense to stop Carolina from the 25 to the 20. The Saints have been decent defending the red zone at times but can we trust them in this spot. Tough call. Turnovers are always critical and Carolina has shown the propensity to cough it up this year. Although, after committing 4 turnovers on national TV, you would think the Panthers will play a clean game. Still, turnovers can be random and out of the players' control. Helmet to ball is a good example. The Panthers are ranked 29th in special teams while the Saints are ranked 8 spots higher. No real advantage there.  

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This is another tough game for me. You have the Panthers who are getting healthy and hungry, while the Saints have had two weeks to prepare for their division rival. New Orleans has been great as an underdog over the last three seasons. The Saints are 10-3 ATS when listed as an underdog of any kind. Carolina has been really good in predicted close games (when the line is +3 to -3) as they check in with a 12-6 ATS record over the last three seasons. Maybe the Panthers have a Super Bowl hangover as evident by their 1-4 SU and 1-4 ATS records. This is a must win game for the Panthers and they might catch the Saints a little rusty from all the rest. New Orleans has lost their past two games coming off a BYE week. Carolina has their BYE next week (Week 7). They are just 3-6 SU and 3-6 ATS in games before a BYE since 2008.

Carolina defeated New Orleans twice last season although the Saints covered both games. Once as 10-point road underdogs and the other as 5.5-point home pups. In fact, the Panthers have won three straight in the series while outgaining New Orleans 1,425 to 1,024. If you think that's a lot of yards that's because it is. All three games went over the total with an overage O/U line of 47.8 points. The odds-makers have certainty inflated this total based on very recent history.

Jeff's Pick to Cover the Point Spread:New Orleans Saints +3 & Under 53

This should be a great game to watch rather than to bet. Lean to the host and the Under. I can see Carolina winning by a 24-23 score. I have the line closer to the Saints +1 and 51 points. The public likes the Saints and that's a little scary. Just under 70% of the bets are on the Saints at one high-limit sportsbook. Proceed with cation.

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