New Orleans Saints (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday September 24th, 2017. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NO +6/CAR -6
Over/Under Total: 48
Two NFC South rivals will collide inside Bank of America Stadium on Sunday when the Carolina Panthers host the New Orleans Saints at 1:00PM (EST) on Fox. The Panthers improved to 2-0 last week despite a relatively ugly performance against Buffalo in a game that failed to see any touchdowns. Nevertheless, the Panthers pulled out a 9-3 victory for their 2nd straight win on the season. Another team that suffered an ugly performance was the Saints who suffered yet another devastating showing on defense allowing 3 first quarter touchdowns to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
New Orleans 36-20 defeat at the hands of the Patriots may not have been surprising considering the revenge factor playing for the New England following their opening loss to Kansas City. Still, New Orleans showed severe defensive deficiencies for the 2nd week in a row. After making Sam Bradford look like an elite quarterback in week 1, Tom Brady threw for 447 yards with 3 touchdowns. Bradys 3 touchdowns all came in the 1st quarter and honestly it looked like the Patriots could have scored at will if they would have kept the foot on the throttle. Of course New Orleans defensive problems are nothing new. The Saints ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense in 2016 and were 31st in 2015. If Saints fans were hopeful for improvement, all hope has been lost as they currently rank dead last in total defense, points allowed, and passing yards allowed following the first 2 games of the year.
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As the Saints defense troubles continue, many may expect this Sundays game with Carolina to be an advantageous spot for quarterback Cam Newton considering the facts above. However, I am still skeptical of this Carolina offense. Despite a decent outing in the opening win against San Francisco from a statistical standpoint, Cam Newton has not played well. In last weeks victory against Buffalo, the Panthers missed several opportunities to put the game away. Newton missed tight end Ed Dickson on a big opportunity in the 3rd quarter and then missed a wide open Christian McCaffrey in the end zone in the 4th quarter. It was just poor execution from the Panthers franchise quarterback that moved his season numbers to 399 yards passing, 59% completion percentage, with 2 touchdowns, and 1 pick after 2 games.
Those numbers are hardly encouraging for a Panthers offense that has looked lost. First round draft pick Christian McCaffrey was expected to be a big part of the offense. The elusive threat out of Stanford has been given several opportunities out of the backfield and in the receiving game with little success. Additionally, the Panthers took a big hit on Sunday when they lost tight end Greg Olsen who went down with a broken foot. Olsen will miss significant time which means this struggling Panthers offense will lose one of its biggest weapons. For this weeks contest with New England, I believe the Panthers will have to get McCaffrey involved in every way imaginable. Sure they could run Jonathan Stewart with some success and possibly look to WR Kelvin Benjamin for a spark. However, McCaffrey has speed and can great open space. Speed has been the biggest nemesis to New Orleans defense in recent weeks and that bodes well for McCaffrey if they can get him the ball.
If the Panthers fail to exploit New Orleans defense or have another poor outing, I would not rule out an outright New Orleans victory. The Saints offense has not looked great in the opening two weeks but they still have a lot of weapons. In many ways, the Saints are still trying to find the best personnel group on the field. The 3-way backfield between Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Adrian Peterson appears to be a drama filled scenario that will carry on. However, quarterback Drew Brees is still capable of high quality performances. WR Michael Thomas is an excellent number 1 receiver and I think Brandon Coleman will emerge in this offense as well. Still, Brees is only as good as his protection and the Saints offensive line has to do a better job. If they can get their quarterback some time to throw, they will have the opportunity to attack a vulnerable Carolina secondary.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know the New Orleans defense is a mess but Carolinas offense is also a mess. Another bad performance out of Cam this week leads to a Saints upset. Take New Orleans +6. - 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 100% 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.