New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers Week 3 Bet
New Orleans Saints (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS)
NFL Football Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday September 25th, 2021. 4:25PM (EST)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
Point Spread: NO -3/CAR +3
The winless Carolina Panthers will host the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium this Sunday for an early season NFC South showdown. After a close loss to the Browns in the opener, the Panthers delivered another dud in week 2 with a 19-16 loss to the Giants. As a result, the Panthers will be hoping to get back on track this Sunday when they get an opponent that has also had a shaky start to the year. The Saints did get a win in the opener by narrowly avoiding an upset loss to the Falcons but followed that up with an ugly 20-10 loss to the Buccaneers. Like the Panthers, the Saints are 0-2 ATS on the season and will be looking for their first cover as 3-point betting favorites.
In many ways, both the Saints and Panthers are encountering similar issues. The Panthers’ bold move over the offseason to seek former Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield is not turning out the way they hoped. Mayfield has completed just 53% of his passes for 380 yards with two touchdowns and one pick through the opening two games. The Panthers’ passing game has not shown any improvement, and the offense is still dependent on the play of RB Christian McCaffrey. Essentially, it is the same issues that have been in place throughout the Matt Rhule era in Charlotte, and the Panthers desperately need to turn things around.
Meanwhile, the Saints have also had many struggles on the offensive side of the football. Unlike Carolina, the Saints have several playmakers in WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, and others. However, as seen multiple times in the last year or more, QB Jameis Winston can be extremely hot or cold from week to week. In last week’s 20-10 loss to the Buccaneers, Winston threw three interceptions, including a pick-six, despite a pretty respectable effort from the New Orleans’ defense. RB Alvin Kamara was also sidelined with an injury which did not help matters, but I believe everyone would agree that Winston needs to play better for the Saints to win. The good news, at least for Sunday’s Week 3 road trip to Carolina, is that Kamara is expected to return to his starting role in the backfield following a rib injury that kept him out last week.
Matt Rhule in a must-win situation against New Orleans
Typically, we don’t start talking about coaches that are on the hot seat or potential firings until much later in the year. However, I can assure everyone that the Panthers’ front office is starting to feel some pressure to make changes. The consensus around the Panthers’ organization is that Rhule has failed to show any consistent improvement since taking over as the Head Coach. Rhule is 10-25 SU in 3 seasons at Carolina, and the team is basically no better than it was three years ago despite having more talent on the field. There is a large group of people, myself included, that believe Rhule’s job is on the line if the Panthers do not win imminently, and if Carolina loses again this Sunday, it would be the first time since 2010 that Carolina has started a season 0-3 SU.
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers Match-Up Analysis
From a handicapping perspective, the only thing that scares me is that the Panthers and Baker Mayfield are due for a strong performance. Aside from that situational and speculative narrative, the Saints are the better football team on both sides of the football. After a slow start, the Saints defense held Tom Brady and Tampa’s offense to just 260 total yards last week. The Saints’ secondary is vastly improved from a year ago, and I think this will be a tough match-up for Carolina’s passing attack. Mayfield has been bad throughout the opening two weeks of the season, and the Saints have all the personnel to make things really difficult for the Carolina receivers this week.
The Panthers best path to victory is to ride the coattails of Christian McCaffrey this week. McCaffrey had 102 yards on 15 carries last week and added another 26 yards on four catches. However, it could be easily argued that McCaffrey did not touch the ball enough, especially in the latter stages of the contest with the game on the line. For this week’s match-up against New Orleans, the Saints have not exactly played well against the run, which should open the door for another opportunistic performance from McCaffrey. The question is whether Rhule will find enough ingenuity or common sense to find ways to exploit New Orleans’ weaknesses upfront.
The total for this week’s contest is posted at just 40 points which speaks to the ceiling of both defenses in this match-up. While Carolina’s defense is pretty decent, I think the Saints have more paths to victory in this game on the offensive side of the ball. When Winston is not throwing pick-sixes, he can be a very effective quarterback. WR Michael Thomas looks like his old self, and WR Jarvis Landry appears to be a nice fit in this Saints offense. Throw in the return of Kamara to the line-up, and I think New Orleans has more ways to effectively attack the Panthers to get a victory.
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Prediction
With the urgency in Carolina, I would not be surprised to see a bit better performance from the offense this week. I actually like the “over” 40 because I think both of these offenses will have bounce-back-type performances. With that said, I don’t have any faith in Carolina pulling out this victory unless we see a dramatic change. I like the Saints to get the job done!
Jay’s Pick: Take New Orleans -3