Free Pro Football Picks: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 11/7/2010, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  New Orleans -6.5
Current Betting Line:  New Orleans -6.5
Opening Total:  41
Current Total:  40.5
Current Moneyline:  New Orleans -290 / Carolina +240

Saints vs. Steelers NFL Game Preview
New Orleans QB Drew Brees knows how important a victory can be heading into a bye week and will have his team ready on Sunday

New Orleans has alternated wins and losses in its last six games and rides into Carolina with a 5-3 overall record.  The Saints picked up a 20-10 Sunday Night Football victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  “We’re used to playing big games, prime-time against opponents like Pittsburgh,” said quarterback Drew Brees.  “To find a way to rally again, to have that same level of intensity and focus the following week is tough.”  Brees connected on 20 of 22 passes after halftime and tossed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal the deal.  With a bye week on the horizon, New Orleans can ill-afford to slip up against a bad football team this week.  The team is 3-5 ATS this season and 23-19 ATS over the past three years.  In taking a look at the NFL lines page, the Saints are still respected by oddsmakers as a six-point road favorite.

The Saints are well aware of its tough history with Sunday’s opponent, as the club is just 3-6 against Carolina since Sean Payton’s arrival in 2006.  “Carolina always plays us tough, despite whatever their record is,” Brees stated.  “Any divisional game on the road is a huge game, especially going into a bye week.”  New Orleans will get some players back for its injured secondary, but it will definitely not help against the strength of their opponent this week, a formidable rushing attack.  Starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, who have missed the last two games, both practices for a third straight day on Friday.  One player that will likely not return until after the bye week is running back Reggie Bush, with Payton downgrading him to doubtful.

Carolina managed to gain just 201 yards in last Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams and will now have to go against the third-best defense in the league that gives up just 287.3 yards per game.  “If it was that easy to say it was one thing it would be easier to fix, but in our situation, it’s a combination of things,” said Fox.  Quarterback Matt Moore will need to be able to open up things for the running game and he brings a 5-2 career record at home as a starter into Sunday’s contest.  He has been named the starter despite throwing three interceptions last week, raising his season total to 10 in five games.  The team is 9-4 ATS versus division opponents and 9-1 ATS when revenging a loss.

The Panthers formidable running game is heading south and star runner DeAngelo Williams is likely out again with a foot injury.  Carolina desperately needs him to pull off the upset due to his 119.8 rushing yards per game against the Saints.  The team leads the series, 17-4, while battling to a defeat in the Superdome earlier this year with rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen playing in place of Moore.

Bettors will be interested to find the Saints are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games versus a team with a losing home record, while the Panthers are 13-6-1 ATS as a home underdog of 3.5 to 10 points.

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