Panthers vs. Saints Week 17 Pick
Carolina Panthers (6-9 SU, 6-9 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-2 SU, 10-5 ATS)
NFL Football Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday December 30th, 2018. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
Point Spread:CAR +8.5/NO -8.5
Over/Under Total: 45
Last week the New Orleans Saints delivered a staggering blow to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 31-28 victory in the Superdome. The Saints appeared to be in cruise control early against the Steelers jumping out to a 24-14 lead. However, Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown led a fierce comeback effort to grab the lead in the 4th quarter. Saints QB Drew Brees, and WR Michael Thomas responded with a touchdown hookup and the Saints defense come up with a game-ending fumble recovery to seal the win. The victory secured New Orleans’ home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the best record in the NFL and likely knocked the Steelers out of the postseason. This week New Orleans has one final home game to conclude the regular season when they host the Carolina Panthers in what promises to be the likes of an exhibition game.
Saints expected to rest starters
Coach Sean Payton has not publicly announced his plans for this week’s home game against the Carolina Panthers. However, the Saints have nothing to play for as they have already wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. In situations like the Saints face on Sunday, we have seen several different strategies unfold from different teams around the league in previous years. Some coaches have elected to play their starters a full 60 minutes, others for a limited pitch count, and some coaches have elected to rest the bulk of their starters altogether. When it comes to Sean Payton, he has a history of resting the starters all together meaning the offense will likely not see QB Drew Brees, WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, and others at all this weekend. Instead, the Saints are expected to rest their starting cast which would also elevate QB Teddy Bridgewater into the starting role.
Panthers QB Kyle Allen will start against Saints
The Panthers quarterback situation has quickly gone from bad to worse in just a week’s time. Last week, Head Coach Ron Rivera announced star quarterback Cam Newton would sit for the final two games of the season. Newton had been battling a shoulder injury and was not performing well. Last week, quarterback Taylor Heinicke got his first start of his career. Heinicke struggled hitting a decent 33 of 53 passing for 274 yards with 1 touchdown but threw 3 picks. More importantly, Heinicke exited the game with an elbow injury. On Wednesday, the Panthers announced Heinicke would be placed on the IR after an MRI on the injured elbow. As a result, rookie Kyle Allen will likely get the start on Sunday. Allen got a few snaps last Sunday when Heinicke went to the sideline. However, the rookie is very unpolished and inexperienced which will definitely not help an offense that has struggled tremendously in recent weeks.
Reasons to fade Carolina
I am sure the Panthers may appear like an appetizing pick this Sunday getting 10 points against a team that will likely be resting many of their key players. However, I am not sure if that is enough reason to back Carolina in this spot. The Panthers offense is still a mess and will have to put their faith in a 3rd string quarterback. In the last two games, the Panthers have combined for just 19 points and turned the ball over 6 times during that time frame. Just two weeks ago, the Panthers were held to just 3 field goals in a 12-9 loss in Carolina against the Saints.
While the Carolina defense held their ground in that Monday night game against the Saints, the offense produced just 9 points with Cam Newton under center. A couple more stalled drives or costly turnovers in this meeting could easily lead to some extra scoring opportunities for the Saints no matter who is on the field. Not to mention, the Saints defense has been playing really well in recent weeks. Before last week’s shootout with Pittsburgh, the defense had held the previous 6 opponents to 17 points or less. The Saints defense will be in a position to shine once again on Sunday, and that could lead to a surprisingly dominating performance.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the Saints despite the concern of the starters. The Panthers are a complete trainwreck going 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 road games. Expect the Saints defense to be the story again in this one! Take New Orleans -8.5