NFC South bragging rights will be on the line late Sunday night down on the bayou where the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints will look to seize division supremacy from one another. Cam Newton and company enter this pivotal match-up having scored their eighth win in a row after going through the motions in a 27-6 dismantling of the Buccaneers at home last week, while the Saints return home with their tail between their legs looking to rebound from the pounding they absorbed at the hands of the Seahawks in front of the 12th Man.
OPEN: SAINTS -3.5 | CURRENT: SAINTS -3 | O/U: 45
1. Why the SAINTS will cover the spread: The Saints are yet to be defeated in front of the hometown faithful this season, and each of their L/2 wins at home came against playoff bound teams in the San Francisco 49ers (23-20) and Dallas Cowboys (49-17). Coach Payton’s squad simply gets it done in their own house with him at the helm evidenced by the team’s last defeat under his watch in the Superdome came back in Week 17 of the 2010-11 season when Brees was benched in the later stages of the game with a playoff seed already wrapped up. N’awlens enters this spot having covered 21 of their L/27 home games and stands a perfect 4-0 ATS following its L/4 SU defeats.
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2. Why the PANTHERS will cover the spread: Everything, and I do mean everything has gone right for Coach Rivera’s troops since incurring an embarrassing 22-6 defeat in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals way back in Week 5. Since that point, Carolina has forced its will upon eight straight opponents and covered the closing number in all but one of those games by getting just enough done on the offensive side of the ball while playing an in your face brand of defense that’s seen them surrender a grand total of 99 points. Luke Kuechly and the rest of his defensive teammates play a brand of defense similar to that of the Seahawks, and we just saw ho mortal that unit made the Saints vaunted offense look last Monday night.
3. Total Talk: The offenses have taken center stage each of the L/4 times these division rivals locked horns with the ‘over’ cashing in each contest; the average combined score came out to 65.8 PPG! That said, Carolina’s defense was nowhere near as good as is now, and the Panthers have been kind to ‘under’ bettors all season with it cashing on eight of 12 occasions – they have however split their six games away from Bank of America Stadium.
NO’s resurgence defensively has also seen the Saints cash ‘under’ bettor’s tickets in seven of their 12 played games, but the O/U is also split down the middle in their six home skirmishes.
4. Betting Trends for SAINTS/PANTHERS: While New Orleans will be seeking some redemption for getting swept in this rivalry last season, the road team has covered at a 19-7 ATS clip in the L/26 meetings which includes Carolina’s impressive 11-1 ATS streak the L/12 times it paid a visit to Bourbon Street. New Orleans has been much better in the comforts of its own dome all season long, but Carolina might just be the toughest opponent its faced at home all season long. Let’s face it, the Saints were bailed out by a terrible late-game call against the 49ers that allowed them to tie it up before going on to win in the closing seconds, and they were simply manhandled by a Seattle team that Carolina had on the ropes throughout the entirety of their Week 1 match-up.
Oh yeah, the Panthers also went into Candlestick and beat the Niners outright 10-9 as 6-point underdogs. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me again, shame on me! Not making the mistake two weeks in a row. New Orleans has trouble with physical in your face defenses, and the Panthers won’t allow for them to wiggle out of this one en route to scoring their ninth straight win to take the division lead.
Carolina 30 – New Orleans 20