Carolina Panthers (11-0 SU, 9-2 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-7 SU, 4-6-1 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday December 6th, 4:25PM EST
Where: Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR -7/NO +7
Over/Under Total: 50
The Carolina Panthers will take their unbeaten record on the road this Sunday when they meet the New Orleans Saints inside the Superdome. The Panthers are now the only team in the NFL that is still unbeaten thanks to the Broncos who knocked off the Patriots last Sunday night. With just 5 games remaining and a fairly manageable schedule, some are questioning if the Panthers could possibly run the table? This week the Panthers try to keep those hopes alive when they face their NFC South rivals in New Orleans.
The Saints have had a pretty terrible season at just 4-7 SU and they have lost their last 3 games consecutively. Strangely, the Saints offense has been pretty awful in recent weeks which has historically been their strongpoint. Quarterback Drew Brees is having a down year as compared to the lofty numbers he has tossed around in recent seasons and the entire team is struggling on both sides of the ball. However, things can change quickly from week to week in the NFL and there is a chance the Saints could get back on track this week when they return home against an undefeated Carolina team.
Perhaps this Sundays contest is just what the Saints needed after an awful two game road trip with the chance to return home with an opportunity to knock off the only unbeaten team in the NFL. In order to do so the Saints will need to get some answers on the defensive side of the football. New Orleans fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan before giving up 362 yards to a mediocre Texans offense last week which was part of a 24-6 shellacking. With another week under his belt, this should be new defensive coordinator Dennis Allens chance to show us the reason he was given the position at the midpoint of the year.
If the Saints get can some better help on defense, perhaps it will give them an opportunity to contend. However, I still have concerns for the Saints offense this week as they go against the best defense in the NFL. Brees and the Saints offense was held to just 268 total yards last week despite playing from behind nearly the entire game. Brees did not look particularly sharp, tight end Ben Watson had a few costly drops, and the receivers did not particularly play well to help matters. This week New Orleans will matchup against a Carolina defense that is simply nasty at all levels.
The Panthers defense manhandled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day returning two Tony Romo interceptions for touchdowns and simply outplaying Dallas on nearly every snap. Linebacker Luke Kuechly and CB Josh Norman are having outstanding seasons which should present some matchup difficulties for the New Orleans offense. However the most crucial aspect to this Sundays game for the Carolina defense will be getting pressure from their defensive front. We saw last week when Houstons defensive line got to Brees that they could disrupt the passing game. Therefore, Carolina could apply the same pressure and force some of the same issues if they are able to get to Brees quickly.
Offensively, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will get to take a crack at a New Orleans defense that has given up 284 yards per game which is the 2nd worse unit in the league. Newton has not necessarily thrown the ball that well this season completing just 57% passing but they have been able to make plays down the field at times. For the Saints, the defense should have more problems stopping Carolinas running game. The Panthers rank 4th in rushing offense and will be going against one of the worse run stop units in the league which will give running back Jonathan Stewart and Newton plenty of opportunities to make plays on the ground. Of course those defensive woes were under former coordinator Rob Ryan, so it will be very interesting to see if anything changes this week under the direction of Dennis Allen.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think these two teams are going in opposite directions. I can see the Saints coming out with some fire and playing well. However, I just do not believe they will hold up for 4 quarters as the Panthers pull away. Take Carolina -7
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