The New Orleans Saints eight-game winning streak ended in Los Angeles last week (to the Rams) but they have to rebound quickly.
On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers visit the Saints in a game that will determine first place in the NFC South. The two teams are tied at 8-3 but the Saints won the first meeting of the season. The winner gets a leg up on the division and home-field advantage for at least one game in the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Point Spread: Saints -4 Date: Sunday December 3rd, 2017 – 4:25 PM ET Location: Mercedez-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
Point Spread And Betting Analysis
The Saints have dominated this series of late, winning five straight meetings. However, this meeting figures to be different than the Week 3 contest when Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was still rusty after offseason surgery. He had just 167 passing yards and three interceptions.
The Panthers are one of the best teams to bet on the road as they have won and covered five of their six road games. They’re also great as a dog, covering all four times this season and nine of their last 11 in that role. As for the Saints, they are 6-1 ATS as the favorite and 7-0 straight up. They’ve covered 11 of the last 14 divisional matchups.
While the Saints and their winning streak has garnered all of the attention, the Panthers have quietly been one of the best teams in the league. They are 8-3 overall with losses to the Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. Carolina has won four in a row and six of eight.
Cam Newton has gotten better as the season has progressed. He had 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 79.1 quarterback rating through his first eight games. Since then, he has four touchdowns, no interceptions and has a QB rating of 87.3. Although the numbers aren’t great, it works just fine when you’re defense ranks second in yards allowed (281.8) and eighth in points allowed (18.8).
The key to this game will be the Panthers ground game. They are fifth in rushing (129.2 per game) and New Orleans has a tough time stopping the run. They allow 4.6 yards per carry.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints impressive eight-game winning streak came to an end against the Rams. Their main issue was that they couldn’t sustain drives as they converted just three-of-13 on third down and held the ball for 24:34 compared to the 35:26 for the Rams. While the Saints did have 123 rushing yards, 74 of that came on one carry. That means they averaged just 3.06 yards per carry on their 16 other attempts.
For the Saints to get back on track, they’ll have to get back to running the ball effectively. Yes, they can pass the ball but what led to eight straight wins was balance on offense. When they can pound the ball, they’re a tough team to stop. When they can’t, they’re still a hard-to-stop offense, but a predictable one.
The challenge for New Orleans is that the Panthers don’t give up much on the ground. They rank third in the NFL, allowing 83.2 rushing yards per game. New Orleans will have to impose their will as they did in the first meeting when they managed 149 rushing yards while average 5.5 yards per carry.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction:
Panthers 28, Saints 24