New Orleans Saints (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1 SU, 5-3 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date and Time: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8:25 pm EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: NFL Network, DirecTV - 212
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NO -1.5/Car +1.5
Over/Under Total: 49
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Fresh off a win in primetime on Sunday Night Football the New Orleans Saints will try and continue their climb back toward the top of the NFC South, when they go on the road for a crucial game against the rival Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday Night Football.
The Saints offense was hitting on all cylinders and used a big second half to score a win against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, 44-23, and with the win the Saints will try and ride that momentum all the way to Charlotte with another game with only three days rest.
The Saints will face a Carolina Panther team that is still playing good football despite not winning since October 10th, losing two in a row after a tie, including a late-game heartbreaker to the Seattle Seahawks last week on the same Bank of America turf, 13-9. Despite playing the Seahawks tough for 55 minutes on Sunday, its the once-feared Panther defense hasnt been holding up their end of the bargain of late and they will have a hard task getting off the schnid against the explosive Saints offense.
Just like last week when the Panthers were underdogs against the Seahawks at home (closed at +5), this week oddsmakers have installed the Saints as slim 1.5-point favorites on the road when the point spread went up on the board late on Sunday. The over/under total opened at 49.
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In the second half of the Sunday night game the Saints offense and Drew Brees finally started to look like the 2nd-ranked offense everyone has come to expect, with Brees getting everyone on the offense involved including rookie WR Brandin Cooks and a close to 100-percent Jimmy Graham. The big difference on Sunday, and a key to Thursdays game will be the running game and once-Heisman Mark Ingram, who had 172 yards against the Packers. Since the Panthers defense has had its troubles stopping the run (28th 135 ypg), Ingram and the Saints may try and break their tendencies and rely on the run instead of the pass to win.
Cam Newton has played pretty well, despite the fact that the Panthers have had injuries at running back and have had little to no running game to take away some of the pressure (27th in rushing 93 ypg). The good news is that the Saints defense hasnt really stopped too many teams this season through seven games, giving up 390 yards a game (28th) and 289 yards in the passing (31st).
The last time these two met was in Charlotte just before Christmas last year, in what turned into a handing of the NFC South torch type of game when the Panthers won, 17-13 as 3.5-point favorites. Carolina has played well against the Saints and the NFC South rivals in general, goin 9-4 both SU and ATS in the past three seasons.
Ironically, neither of these teams have had much success on Thursday Night Football, with New Orleans 4-4 SU (1-7 ATS) and the Panthers with a 1-3 record both SU and ATS.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Saints sure seemed to flip the switch in the last 30 minutes of the Packers game last week. But in the NFL last week was last week. With less than 24 hours of this game going up on the board, most of the money has been on the Saints and the line has yet to move. The snakebit Panthers are overdue, and I have a thing for home dogs, so Im going to wait and see if the number climbs higher and then Im going to take the Panthers and the points.