NFL Predictions: Saints at Panthers Week 16 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/17/2013
It's a huge game in Charlotte on Sunday, the biggest for the Panthers franchise since the 2008 season when they host New Orleans. Whichever team wins this game is likely to win the NFC South -- the Saints will with a win regardless while Carolina can't automatically clinch yet because New Orleans won the first matchup. However, Carolina should be able to win in Week 17 at Atlanta.
Taking the South is vastly important because it gets you the first-round bye and No. 2 seed in the conference. That means avoiding Seattle until the NFC title game (Seahawks have beaten both New Orleans and Carolina already), and perhaps some team can go to the Pacific Northwest and upset the Seahawks in the divisional round. It's not impossible for the Panthers and Saints to also play again in the divisional round as I wouldn't put it past either to win on wild-card weekend (as things currently stand, it would be Carolina at Chicago on that weekend).
Getting at least one home game is absolutely essential for the Saints as they are unbeaten in the Superdome but have been very shaky on the road. Even two of their three road wins easily could have been losses: 16-14 in Week 2 at Tampa Bay and 17-13 in Week 12 at Atlanta. Carolina has just one home loss, and that was in the opener, 12-7, to those Seahawks in a game the Cats certainly could have won. At Sportsbook.ag, the Panthers are -140 to win the division with New Orleans at +120.
Saints at Panthers Betting Story Lines
New Orleans looked flat-out lousy in Sunday's 27-16 loss at St. Louis. It was 14-0 before the first quarter was over and 24-3 at halftime. The Rams have a pretty good defense, but that shouldn't happen to Drew Brees and Co. in a dome. The Saints couldn't do squat on the ground, so Brees threw it a whopping 56 times, completing 39 for 393 yards, one touchdown and two picks. His two interceptions were in the first quarter, a first for him in 10 years. The Saints average 32.9 points at home and 18.4 away. Brees completes 73 percent of his passes for 23 TDs and three picks at the Superdome and 63 percent with 11 TDs and seven picks away from there.
Coach Sean Payton was understandably grouchy after the game. He pulled starting left tackle Charles Brown in the third quarter as he was being dominated by Rams pass-rushing stud Robert Quinn. Right tackle Zach Strief moved to left tackle, and Bryce Harris came in at right tackle. As of this writing, Payton hasn't said if Brown will get his job back. It wouldn't shock me if the Saints work out kickers this week, either. Garrett Hartley missed a 26-yard kick in the fourth quarter and had a 36-yarder blocked. Hartley is only 22-of-30 on the season. A decade ago that's decent, but not today.
Carolina beat the Jets 30-20 on Sunday as Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown. Captain Munnerlyn had one of the best defensive games of the year with two sacks and an interception returned 42 yards for a touchdown. If there was one concern from the game, it was that Carolina allowed the one-dimensional Jets to rush for 157 yards on 28 carries to keep it close. The Panthers played without running back Jonathan Stewart, and he's not going to return this week. DeAngelo Williams became the focal point of the offense with Stewart sidelined, rushing for 81 yards and catching three passes for 87, largely thanks to a 72-yard screen pass for a score. Newton injured his toe in the game but didn't miss any team and certainly will start.
Saints at Panthers NFL Week 16 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Carolina is a three-point favorite with a total of 46.5. The Saints are 7-7 ATS (1-6 on road) and 5-9 “over/under” (2-5 on road). The Panthers are 8-5-1 ATS (5-1-1 at home) and 5-9 O/U (2-5 at home). New Orleans is 5-2 ATS in its past seven after an ATS loss. It is 2-6 ATS in its past eight road games against teams with a winning home record. The Panthers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the NFC. They are 6-2 ATS in their past eight following a win. The under is 5-0 in the Saints' past five. The under is 6-0 in Carolina's past six after a win. The Saints are 1-4 ATS in the past five at Carolina. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings overall.
NFL Predictions: Saints at Panthers Betting Picks
When these teams met two weeks ago in New Orleans, the Saints rolled, 31-13. The Panthers had trouble getting pressure on Brees and he torched them for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Saints were in on Newton all night, sacking him five times and holding the Panthers to 111 passing yards. Carolina moved the ball well in the first quarter but managed only two field goals and then did nothing afterward. The Saints converted their three first-half trips inside the Carolina 20 into touchdowns. It was easily the most points scored this year against the Cats.
The Panthers would no doubt prefer a cold day, but it looks to be rather nice in Charlotte on Sunday, although there's a 50 percent chance of rain. I simply don't trust the Saints outdoors at this point. I'd probably jump on the three points now because the early heavy action is on the Cats. But Carolina and the under are the picks.
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