NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina

Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: NFL Network
Opening Line: New Orleans -1 1/2
Current Line: New Orleans -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 49
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Saints -145 / Panthers +125
Current Money Line: Saints -150 / Panthers +130 

Panthers Saints NFL Preview
Drew Brees and the Saints travel to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in a battle for first in the NFC South.

The 3-4 New Orleans Saints travel to Charlotte to take on the 3-4-1 Carolina Panthers Thursday night in a battle for first place in the NFC South. Neither team has been that impressive this season but both teams have been better than the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Since 2001, Carolina leads the series against New Orleans 14-12. The Panthers have won 3 of the last 4 games in the series. Each team won at home last season. The Saints won in New Orleans 31-13, and the Panthers won in Charlotte 17-13. The last game ended up deciding the NFC South title last season. Carolina makes the return trip to New Orleans December 7.

New Orleans is coached by Sean Payton. The Saints are 3-0 at home but 0-4 on the road. New Orleans has lost 8 straight regular season road games dating back to November of last year. Although, the Saints did upset the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in the playoffs. New Orleans has wins over the Minnesota Vikings 20-9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-31 in overtime and last week against the Green Bay Packers 44-23. The Saints have losses to the Atlanta Falcons 37-34 in overtime, Cleveland Browns 26-24, Dallas Cowboys 38-17 and Detroit Lions 24-23. New Orleans is 3-4 ATS and the total is 6-1 this season. The Saints were 2 point favorites against the Packers and the total was 55.

Carolina is coached by Ron Rivera. The Panthers started off the season 2-0 but have gone 1-4-1 since then. Carolina has a road win at the Buccaneers 20-14, plus home wins against the Detroit Lions 24-7 and Chicago Bears 31-24. The Panthers tied 37-37 at the Cincinnati Bengals. Carolina has losses at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-19 and last week against the Seattle Seahawks 13-9, plus road losses at the Baltimore Ravens 38-10 and Packers 38-17. The Panthers are 5-3 ATS and the total is 5-3 this season. Carolina was a 6 point underdog against the Seahawks and the total was 44.5.

New Orleans is outscoring teams 28-27 this season. The Saints are #5 in scoring and #26 in points allowed. New Orleans is averaging 445 yards per game including 312 passing yards and 133 rushing yards. The Saints are #2 in total and passing offense  and #7 in rushing. On defense, the Saints are allowing 390 total yards including 289 passing yards and 101 rushing yards. The Saints are #28 in total defense and #31 in pass defense. New Orleans is #10 in rush defense. The Saints are 45/89 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 41/91. New Orleans has 13 sacks and has allowed 8 this season. The Saints are -6 in turnovers. New Orleans has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has completed 69.5% of his passes for 2,227 yards with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Running back Mark Ingram has 58 carries for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Khiry Robinson has 64 carries for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. He is doubtful with a forearm injury. Pierre Thomas has 30 carries for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 26 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown. He is out Thursday with a rib injury. Fullback Austin Johnson is questionable with a knee injury.

Tight end Jimmy Graham  has 39 catches for 435 yards with 4 touchdowns. Receiver Marques Colston has 25 catches for 408 yards and a touchdown. Brandin Cooks has 40 catches for 372 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 6 carries for 68 yards and a rushing touchdown. Kenny Stills and Travaris Cadet also get plenty of targets. Josh Hill has only 9 catches but 3 touchdowns.

Carolina is being outscored 26-21 this season. The Panthers are #24 in scoring and #25 in points allowed. Carolina is averaging 333 yards per game on offense including 240 passing and 93 rushing yards per game. The Panthers are #24 in total offense and #27 in rushing. Carolina is allowing 379 yards per game on defense including 243 passing and 135 rushing yards. The Panthers are #18 or worse in all three categories. Carolina is 47/112 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 50/106. The Panthers have forced 16 sacks and allowed 18 this season. Carolina has one return touchdown and has allowed one defensive touchdown this season. The Panthers are +4 in turnovers.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has completed 60.1% of his passes for 1,643 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions along with 50 carries for 214 yards and a touchdown. Derek Anderson started the season opener against Tampa Bay and played in garbage time of blowouts against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Green Bay.

Running back Jonathan Stewart has 58 carries for 217 yards with a touchdown, plus 11 catches for 85 yards. DeAngelo Williams has 25 carries for 106 yards. He is probable with an ankle injury after missing several games. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin has 38 catches for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight End Greg Olson has 42 catches for 509 yards and 5 touchdowns. Receiver Jerricho Cotchery has 26 catches for 316 yards. Seven defensive players and six offensive linemen are questionable or out for the Panthers.

New Orleans is 5-1 ATS after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 6-2 after allowing more than 350 yards, 8-3-1 in week 9, 3-7 after a straight up win, 2-5 against NFC South teams, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 3-9 after passing for more than 250 yards and in road games, 1-4 against teams with a losing record, 1-5 against teams with losing home records, and 0-4 in Thursday games. The under is 13-6 in this series recently and 9-2 in Charlotte.

Carolina is 4-0-1 ATS after scoring less than 15 points, 7-1-1 against teams with losing road records, 6-1 in October, 5-1-1 against teams with losing records, 9-2-1 at home, 4-1-1 after a straight up loss, 4-1 in NFC games, 7-2 against NFC South, and 11-4-1 on grass. The home team is 5-1 ATS in this series recently. The Panthers are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 against the Saints, including 5-1 in Charlotte.

New Orleans is 0-4 on the road but three of those losses were by a combined 6 points. The Panthers have been inconsistent, and would be so much worse if not for Cam Newton’s play. I think the Saints end their road losing streak and take control of the division.

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