On Sunday, the 5-5 Carolina Panthers will take on the 8-2 New Orleans Saints on the road. The Saints come into the game as 9.5-point favorites with a 46.5 over/under.
Needing A Win
The Panthers are coming off two straight losses to the Packers and Falcons where their offense has started to slow. They put up a combined 19 points in their last two games, and they could only score three points in Atlanta.
This season, the Panthers are averaging 22.8 points per game while their defense has allowed 25.7. They are posting 375 yards of offense, including an average of 126 yards rushing, primarily from Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey.
With the season-ending injury to quarterback Cam Newton, Kyle Allen has taken over the starting role. What started as an impressive season has gone downhill over the past few weeks. Allen went a long time in the NFL before throwing his first interception, but he has now thrown nine interceptions and 10 touchdowns along with 1,923 yards. Allen looked like he could be the future for the Panthers, but he will have to get back on the right track if that is going to be the case.
The star of the Panthers offense once again has been McCaffrey. While his production has also dropped over their last two games, he has still posted 1,059 yards and 11 touchdowns off 199 carries. It is clear that if the Panthers are going to win games and have success, it will be on McCaffrey’s shoulders.
While the Panthers are putting up over 100 rushing yards per game, they are also allowing 128.4 yards per game on the ground. This could be a big game for the Saints’ running backs, which will only make it harder on the Carolina pass defense when New Orleans goes to the air with Drew Brees.
Staying On Top
The Saints will enter this game at the top of the NFC South division with an 8-2 record. They are coming off a win over Tampa Bay after a surprising divisional loss to the Falcons.
New Orleans is averaging 23.8 points per game, while its defense is allowing just 19.9. This leads me to believe the under is the way to go in this game, with these teams allowing a combined 34 points per game. The Saints are also posting 378 yards per game while allowing 336, almost identical to the Panthers’ numbers.
The Saints are led once again by the veteran quarterback, Brees. Despite missing some time this season with a thumb injury, Brees seems to be back at 100 percent after a three-touchdown performance last week against the Buccaneers. While Teddy Bridgewater stepped in and did well in his absence, Brees gives the Saints the best chance to win and should be up to the task again this week.
Someone to keep an eye on for a big game this week is Saints running back Alvin Kamara. The young Pro Bowl running back will be getting it done on the ground as well as through the air. While the Panthers’ run defense is giving up over 100 yards per game, Kamara also is a significant threat in the passing game, which should lead to a lot of yards from scrimmage this week.
Getting it done at receiver once again for the Saints is Michael Thomas. The 26-year-old has not disappointed this year after signing a new contract in the offseason. Thomas has posted 1,141 yards off 94 receptions this season, which puts him at the top of the NFL. The Pro Bowler has also reached the end zone five times this year.
What To Expect
With the Saints being at home and the Panthers’ recent struggles on offense. I believe the Saints will be in full control of this game. It may stay close in the beginning, but I expect the Saints to cover the spread in this one.