Thu, Dec 5, 12:24pm by Ed Scimia
Match: Carolina Panthers (9-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (9-3)
When & Where: 12.15pm (AEST) Monday, December 9, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Wager with: www.sportingbet.com.au – new customers receive a $200 free bet
Winners of eight straight games, they’re now not only in a position to make the playoffs, but could also find themselves in control of the NFC South with just one more big win.
That big win would come this week, as they take on the New Orleans Saints in a battle of 9-3 teams that are tied atop their division. With no other team in the NFC South better than 3-9, it’s a two-team race with just four games to play.
Last week, the Saints took one of their worst regular season losses in years on Monday Night Football.
The loss itself wasn’t too shocking as few teams have come away with a win when playing the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. But, a 34-7 rout still left plenty of questions both for the team and for pundits, both of whom have to be wondering whether New Orleans will be able to win on the road in the playoffs.
Luckily, that won’t be a problem for the Saints this week, as they’ll be playing in the Superdome, where their offense is typically unstoppable. But, they’ll have to deal with a defence that’s nearly as impenetrable as Seattle’s. Carolina is giving up just over 13 points a game, by far the best mark in the NFL. And they won’t be intimidated by playing in New Orleans, as Carolina was the last team to win there against the Saints, having done so just last year.
Just like in the Saints-Seahawks game we covered last week, it’s a battle of an elite offense against a brick wall of a defence. However, this matchup is a lot more favourable for the Saints than last week.
As I mentioned above, the Saints are playing at home, possibly going from the worst stadium for away teams in the NFL to having one of the best home field advantages in the league.
And while the Panthers have a solid offense led by the explosive and exciting Cam Newton, they don’t have as much overall talent on that side of the ball as Seattle. That should make it a little easier on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who has extracted good results out of his defence for most of the season.
The Saints have been installed as slight favourites in this game, and I expect them to cover the three-point spread.
There’s no reason to put too much emphasis on Saint’s bad loss last week: it came under the worst possible conditions against what is possibly the best team in the NFL. You can expect the Carolina defence to be able to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints, but they won’t stop them completely – and they’ll manage to score enough to stay ahead of the Panthers.
Prediction: New Orleans 28, Carolina 20
Pick: Saints -3 @ www.sportingbet.com.au
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