Carolina Panthers (3-8-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date and Time: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +10/NO -10
Over/Under Total: 49.5
Bet your Panthers/Saints pick at an online sportsbook where you can bet on games at -105 odds instead of the more expensive -110 price tag that your bookie is sticking you with! Making the switch to betting at discounted odds will save you TONS of cash! Find this great offer as well as 20 point teasers and parlays up to 25 teams at the web’s best bookmaker: 5Dimes.
On Sunday in a critical NFC South matchup, the Carolina Panthers come into the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints. Its not often you can say a game is critical that involves a 3-8-1 team visiting a 5-7 squad, but this is the NFC South, where 5-7 is good for first place. Both of these teams still have legitimate playoff aspirations. On Sunday, Carolina lost their 6th game in a row at Minnesota, 31-13. The Saints broke a 3-game losing streak, marching into Pittsburgh and hanging on for a big 35-32 win.
These teams met on October 30 in Charlotte, with the Saints earning a 28-10 win. New Orleans defense hasnt gotten better since that game, but the Carolina offense hasnt really improved, either. Now in the Superdome, how will a spiraling Carolina team fare against a Saints team that is really due to play well at home?
The Panthers have been struggling and if they dont win on Sunday, its probably a wrap. Normally when a team wins only once in ten games, as Carolina has, its already curtains. But such is life in the nutty NFC South. They were 3-2 at one point, but after a tie in Cincinnati, its been all downhill. In their last 6 games, they lost two close games and were beaten badly in the other 4 games. In week 3 of this season, they were riding the crest of having won 14 of 15 regular season games. With one win in their last ten, its fair to say they have bottomed out in a big way.
The Saints are a tough team to gauge. They were coming off three straight losses, all of which came at the Superdome, which is unheard of. Then they came into Pittsburgh and got a much-needed win. With just a few minutes left, it was 35-16, with the Steelers adding 16 late points. But for the most part, it was a dominant performance by the Saints.
Drew Brees was big on Sunday, with 5 touchdown passes. RB Mark Ingram continued his stellar play, with another 100+-yard performance–his 4th in his last 6 games. WR Kenny Stills was big, with 162 yards through the air. The game showed New Orleans at its best, with a great QB in Brees and a slew of playmakers with a lot of balance on offense. And for the most part, the defense is what they need it to be–just serviceable. Just as long as the opposing team is not permitted to run wild. It doesnt have to be great. And for the most part, its been far from that.
The Panthers performance on Sunday in Minneapolis was also indicative of their issues in 2014. Last season, a top defense could mask some of their issues on offense. Not this season. With some personnel issues having had a horrible affect on this D, they have deteriorated to 29th in the NFL in points allowed. Last season, teams were struggling massively against this defense. Its a massive drop-off. And it got really ugly on Sunday, as two Panthers punts were blocked with both recoveries resulting in touchdowns. If its not one thing with the Panthers, its another.
On Sunday, Newton was ho-hum, He has completed under 60% of his throws with only 13 TD throws and 11 picks. Hes not moving this offense well. The receiving crew has ability, but hasnt been able to break free. Theyll occasionally get a good running performance from Jonathan Stewart, but the ground-game is mostly hit-and-miss. With a good rookie receiver in Kelvin Benjamin and a great pass-catching TE in Greg Olsen, youd think theyd get some better results from time-to-time. In their last 6 games, they have scored an abysmal 87 points, while giving up 174.
The Saints used to be a dependable force at home, but its hard to say that after dropping three straight at the Superdome. Its been a strange season for the Saints, marked by injuries, inconsistency, and late collapses. Four of their losses are by 3 points or less, so theyve been in most games, but have been nipped at the wire several times. The first game between these two teams a little over a month ago seemed to indicate the Saints have the Panthers number this season, combined with the fact that the Saints should really be pining to set the record straight at home, where they used to be almost automatic.
Its a bit bizarre that a 12-win team from last season that has plummeted to a 3-8-1 mark has managed a respectable 6-6 record against-the-spread. And again this week, the Panthers might be getting some good value, with a 10-point spread that on the surface, is pretty tantalizing. But the more I picture it, the more I see Carolina having a particularly hard time against the Saints offense. And while they should be able to put up some points, Carolina lacks the weaponry right now to hang in there in a shootout with an urgent Saints team. Taking a 5-7 team a a double-digit favorite leaves one with a bit of an empty feeling, but I see New Orleans team scoring a conclusive win on Sunday.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New Orleans Saints minus 10 points.