Panthers vs. Saints Prediction

NFL Wild Card Predictions: Will Panthers cover vs. Saints? 1/7/18

Are the Carolina Panthers a good underdog play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday or will Cam Newton and Co. get swept by their NFC South rivals?

WHO ODDSMAKERS LIKE: New Orleans. According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Saints are 6.5-point home favorites to beat the Panthers, who opened as a 5.5-point underdog before the line dropped. As for the total, the number hit the board at 48.5 but was bet down to 47.5.

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WHO PUBLIC BETTORS LIKE: New Orleans. As of this writing, 57% of the betting tickets are on the Saints to cover the spread and 56% of the money is also on New Orleans.

WHO THE TRENDS LIKE: New Orleans and the over. The underdog is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven meetings between these two teams while the road squad is 23-10 at the betting window in the last 33 meetings. That said, the Panthers have been horrible against the spread versus the Saints. They’re 1-4 against the number in their last five games in New Orleans and are winless at 0-6 against the spread in their last six games versus the Saints overall.

WHO WE LIKE: Carolina. I’m not buying into the “it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season” narrative because teams in that scenario are 13-7 since 1970 in the NFL. That said, these two teams are familiar with each other and thus, I’m banking on this game being close. It’s not that Carolina is not talented, it’s that they’re inconsistent. They’re also capable of beating any opponent on any given Sunday because of said talent.

They need to be able to do two things today if they’re going to cash for bettors. One, they need to have an answer for Alvin Kamara. Since Week 6, he’s averaged 7.98 yards per offensive touch. That’s insane. But when he suffered a concussion in the first quarter of an early December game against Atlanta, New Orleans was a different offense. Drew Brees turned into a dink-and-dunk artist in that game and Mark Ingram was slowed. Carolina has to contain Kamara or else the Saints will cover.

The other thing the Panthers need to do is get their read option rolling. Cam Newton can’t beat opponents consistently from the pocket. He doesn’t have any outside weapons and he’s not accurate enough to win consistently in the pocket. But if that Panthers’ outside zone attack gets going, Carolina can keep Kamara and company off the field.

Finally, the Saints have had issues on third downs this year both offensively and defensively. The Panthers have been the better team in that regard. I like them to stay within the 6.5 points.

 

NFL WILD CARD PREDICTION: CAROLINA PANTHERS +6.5

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