Carolina Panthers (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS)
NFL Football Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday December 3rd, 2017. 4:25PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +4.5/NO -4.5
Over/Under Total: 48
The Carolina Panthers will go into the Superdome this Sunday for a battle with the New Orleans Saints for sole control of the NFC South. Both teams currently stand at 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS on the year surprisingly ahead of the Atlanta Falcons who everyone considered the favorites to win the division after making a Super Bowl appearance a year ago. The Saints currently hold the tie breaker thanks to their 34-13 victory over the Panthers back in week 3. However, this Sunday’s rematch will easily put either winner back in the driver seat of the NFC South.
The Panthers capped off their 4th straight win last week with a 35-27 victory in the Meadowlands. Despite a rather mediocre offensive performance, the Panthers defense and special teams both generated touchdowns to help secure the victory. It was the type of performance and reason why the Panthers are so tough to beat. I am a permanent critic of quarterback Cam Newton who continues to post subpar stats yet is perceived as a premiere NFL quarterback. On the year, Cam has thrown 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and has completed just 60% passing.
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Newton’s ability to scramble definitely open up opportunities in the passing game where receiver Devin Funchess and running back Christian McCaffrey continue to develop into reliable threats. Still, Newton is the only true running threat that the Panthers have as both McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart have combined for just 754 yards on the season. As a result, this Panthers offense goes through spells of inconsistency and the turnovers have definitely been troublesome at times as well. Fortunately for Carolina, the Panthers defense continues to play at a high level. The Panthers defense officially ranks 2nd in the NFL allowing just 288 yards per game and they have played a big part in the success despite the offensive troubles.
The question this week becomes can the Carolina defense stop this dynamic New Orleans offense? In the first meeting back in week 3, quarterback Drew Brees threw for 3 touchdowns to help lead the Saints to a convincing win. Obviously Brees is always a threat for any opposing defense but I believe this emerging Saints rushing attack will garner more respect on tape this week to the Panthers coaching staff. In recent weeks, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have become the most dangerous rushing combination in the NFL. In Week 11 and 12 wins, Ingram rushed for 130 plus yards and combined for 4 touchdowns.
Then in the Saints first loss since week 2 last week at Los Angeles, Alvin Kamara exploded for 87 rushing yards and another 101 yards receiving while scoring 2 touchdowns. Both Ingram and Kamara complement each other very well. Ingram is the between the tackles bruising back while Kamara provides the speed and elusiveness homerun threat. Combined with vast improvement from the offensive line, this running game has propelled the Saints to a season that few expected. Perhaps this week, we will get an idea of just how strong this Saints rushing offense has become. The Panthers have been very tough against the run giving up just 83 yards per game which is the 3rd best mark in the league and just 3.9 yards per attempt. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see who wins the battle along the trenches when this Saints offense and Carolina defense meets inside the Superdome.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Under normal circumstances I would like the Saints in this game. With recent injuries to key defensive players, this game sets up to be close at the finish. The Panthers have some decent matchup advantages that are concerning and they have won 4 of the last 6 meetings against New Orleans. Three of the last four matchups have ended in a 3 point margin and if you wanted to stretch to the last five games, that one was only decided by 5. Getting +4.5 here covers two key numbers (common final score margins, 3 and 4) and is the right side to be on. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.