New Orleans Saints (3-3) +3, 44.5 O/U at Carolina Panthers (4-2), -3, 44.5 O/U
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., 1:00 PM Eastern, Sunday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
A NFC South matchup becomes center stage Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. The Carolina Panthers host the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers come into the contest off a tough road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-3. New Orleans comes in fresh off a strong 34-3 defeat at home against the Oakland Raiders.
Carolina found themselves at a season mark of 4-1 before dropping a poor offensive performance against Tampa Bay. The Panthers who have slipped to a three way tie in the NFC South now stand at 4-2 along with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina will look to try and take back control of the NFC South in what has to be an important game for both teams.
New Orleans kept their heads above water last week when they toppled the Oakland Raiders by 31 points to get to a .500 mark at 3-3. The Saints find themselves at the bottom of the NFC South one game behind a 3 way tie for first. This game could be the make or break point for the Saints season. A win puts them back in the hunt for the division while a loss would put the team perhaps too far back to considering legitimate threats.
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This matchup will come down to a prolific New Orleans offense against a stout Carolina defense. Which side of the ball will be the one to break? The Saints will arrive in Charlotte, NC sporting the #2 ranked offense in the league averaging 412 yards per game in total yards. This is the same offense who claims the #1 ranked pass offense in the NFL averaging 324 yards per game. New Orleans has been averaging 28 points a game and will need to continue to put up those offensive numbers to lift them over the Panthers come Sunday. Defensively the Saints have been pretty mediocre, but LB Jonathan Vilma is second in the league in tackles at 56 and looks to keep the Carolina offense in check.
Carolina defense has been the concrete foundation for the Panthers so far this season. The Panthers are ranked #2 in total yards defense allowing a low 264 yards per game. The Panthers are also proud to represent the #2 ranked Secondary in the NFL allowing only 158 yards per game. MLB Jon Beason leads the team early in the year with 42 solo tackles, 51 total tackles, and 1 interception. The Panther #2 ranked secondary will have its hands full with the #1 ranked pass offense from the Saints this weekend. It will truly be a clash of offense vs. defense in this NFC South showdown.
Bookmakers opened the line at -3 favoring the Carolina Panthers. However early betting action has nearly 80% of the public betting on the Saints against the spread. The Over/Under total for the game is holding at a mark of 44.5 with early betting action favoring the over total for the game. Betus.com has the moneyline posted for the event with the New Orleans Saints listed at +130 and Carolina holding at -150.
The Saints have dropped 3 games this season with all of those games at most being a mere 5 point defeat meaning they have had a chance to win every ball game they have been in this season. Drew Brees has been stellar this year completing 70% of his passes with the second highest QB rating in the NFL at 105. Brees is averaging 332 yards a game through the air and in 6 games this year has 12 TDs, and 6 picks. Brees is able to spread the ball around to a good group of receivers with help from WRs Devery Henderson and Lance Moore. Reggie Bush has had not been overly dominate rushing the ball at the running back position but has been a major threat returning on special teams, and catching passes out of the back field. The Saints hope to have some playmakers shine through again come Sunday.
The Panthers have not been dominating on the offensive front, but with the help of their defense have found ways to be effective. Jake Delhomme has had a bit of sluggish start averaging 223 yards per game, completing 58% with 5 TDs and 5 picks. Veteran wide receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad have been go to guys for the offense. Smith was suspended first two games of the year but is starting to get his rhythm back. In his last 3 games, Smith has caught 6 passes in each contest averaging 101 yards a game in those contests.
New Orleans has gone 4-2 ATS so far this season. The Panthers are 7-3 in their last 10 regular season games against the Saints. The Panthers are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games. Interestingly, in the Panthers last 5 games the total has gone on the over side in all 5 of those games. The Saints have also been on the over side of the total in 9 of their last 11 games.
Jays Pick: The Panthers get back up on their feet and show dominance over the Saints.