Panthers-Saints Preview

New Orleans, LA - Outstanding play at the Superdome has helped Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints match the best start in their history.

The Carolina Panthers certainly haven't minded playing there, either.

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The Saints have a chance to go 8-0 for the first time Sunday, but they'll have to find a way to snap a seven-game home losing streak to a Panthers team that is hitting its stride.

Oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Saints –13.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on the Saints –13.5 (View NFL bet percentages).

Four of New Orleans' wins have been at the Superdome, where it is beating opponents by an average of 15.3 points. The Saints matched the best start in franchise history with a 35-27 home win over Atlanta on Monday night.

Only the 1991 Saints started a season with seven straight victories.

"I think our best is yet to come," said Brees, who leads an offense that is averaging an NFL-best 39.0 points per game.

Brees passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns versus the Falcons. He has completed 72.9 percent of his passes for 1,225 yards and 12 TDs with two interceptions at home this season, but has lost all three of his games there against Carolina (3-4).

Brees' four TD passes at home versus the Panthers on Dec. 28 weren't enough. John Kasay made a 42-yard field goal with 1 second left as Carolina won 33-31 to set a franchise record with 12 victories.

It was the Panthers' seventh straight win at New Orleans since a 27-23 loss Dec. 2, 2001. Carolina is averaging 27.0 points in the last six games during that streak.

The Panthers enter this contest having won three of four, beating Arizona 34-21 last Sunday, but this will be their toughest test so far.

New Orleans has complemented Brees with a strong running game and an opportunistic defense.

Pierre Thomas rushed for a score and caught a TD pass against Atlanta. Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush have each gotten at least 47 carries for a running game that is ranked fourth in the NFL, averaging 153.3 yards a contest.

The Saints have given up an average of 29.3 points in their last three games after surrendering a total of 17 in their previous two, but their secondary continues to make big plays.

Jabari Greer returned an interception for a 48-yard score Monday night after getting burned for a deep TD. It was New Orleans' fifth touchdown on an interception this season, tying the franchise record set in 1998.

Darren Sharper picked off his seventh pass, giving the Saints 16 overall. They have at least one INT in every game.

"The way we've been able to (get turnovers) and score is a big reason we're where we're at right now," coach Sean Payton said.

Panthers quarterback and New Orleans native Jake Delhomme has thrown an NFL-worst 13 interceptions, but he's coming off his first turnover-free game.

Delhomme threw his first TD pass to a wide receiver this season, a 50-yarder to Steve Smith, and managed the game well as Carolina relied on a dominant running game versus the Cardinals.

Delhomme left the game after getting hit in the chest while throwing a pass in the third quarter, but a CT scan showed no internal injuries and he hasn't missed any practice time.

The veteran, who began his career with New Orleans, is 5-0 with a 104.7 passer rating in road games against the Saints, throwing five TDs with one interception. Delhomme completed 70.0 percent (14 for 20) of his passes for 250 yards and a TD in last December's game at New Orleans.

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 178 yards and Jonathan Stewart added 56 for the Panthers in that contest. The duo combined for 245 yards and two scores versus Arizona, which entered with the NFL's No. 1 ranked rushing defense.

Carolina is averaging 217.6 yards rushing in its last three games after failing to reach 100 in three of its first four.

"I think we've run the ball pretty effectively over the last month," coach John Fox said. "That's not the area we've been concerned with."

Turnovers had been Fox's main concern, but Delhomme's last performance was promising. Fox is also getting spectacular play from defensive end Julius Peppers, who was criticized for his slow start.

Peppers had a leaping interception that he returned 13 yards for a TD last week, and had his sixth sack in four games.

"All of the naysayers and people that are saying this and that about Julius Peppers, well you can say what you want about him, but we love him," linebacker Thomas Davis said.

Bet NFL Week 9

Posted: 11/4/09 5:50PM ET

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