Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 3, 2017, 4:25 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Opening Line: New Orleans -3 1/2
Current Line: New Orleans -5
Opening Total: 48
Current Total: 48
Opening Money Line: Saints -205 / Panthers +173
Current Money Line: Saints -230 / Panthers +190
First place in the NFC South is on the line as the New Orleans Saints host the Carolina Panthers. Both teams are 8-3 and the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons are also in the mix. The winner between the Saints and Panthers will be in sole possession of first place with only four games to play. New Orleans would have the equivalent of a two game lead as they beat Carolina 34-13 in Charlotte in week three. Carolina leads the series 24-21. The Panthers have won four of the last six against the Saints.
Carolina is coached by Ron Rivera. The Panthers have home losses to the New Orleans Saints 34-13 and Philadelphia Eagles 28-23, plus a road loss to the Chicago Bears 17-3. Carolina has home wins over the Buffalo Bills 9-3, Atlanta Falcons 20-17, and Miami Dolphins 45-21, plus road wins over the San Francisco 49ers 23-3, New England Patriots 33-30, Detroit Lions 27-24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-3 and New York Jets 35-27 last week. Carolina has won four straight games. Carolina was a 5.5 point favorite against the Jets, and the total was 39.5. The Panthers are 7-4 ATS and the total is 6-5 this season.
New Orleans is coached by Sean Payton. The Saints have road losses at the Minnesota Vikings 29-19 and Los Angeles Rams 26-20 last week, plus a home loss to the New England Patriots 36-20. The loss to the Rams last week snapped an eight game winning streak for the Saints. New Orleans has a neutral site win over the Miami Dolphins 20-0 in London, plus road wins over the Panthers 34-13, Green Bay Packers 26-17, and Buffalo Bills 47-10. The Saints have home wins over the Detroit Lions 52-38, Chicago Bears 20-12, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-10 and Washington Redskins 34-31 in overtime. The Rams were 2.5 point favorites against the Saints and the total was 54. New Orleans is 7-4 ATS and the total is 6-5 this season.
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Carolina is outscoring teams 23-19 this season. The Panthers are #8 in points allowed. Carolina averages 333 yards per game on offense including 204 passing and 129 rushing yards. The Panthers are #5 in rushing. On defense, Carolina allows 288 yards per game including 205 passing and 83 rushing yards per game. The Panthers are #6 or better in all three categories. Carolina is 73/164 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 53/153. The Panthers have forced 32 sacks and allowed 26 this season. Carolina is -6 in turnovers and has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Cam Newton has completed 60.3% of his passes for 2,400 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, plus 83 carries for 464 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. He has been sacked 26 times. Newton is probable with a thumb injury and has also been battling shoulder issues all season. Derek Anderson will start if Newton can’t go.
Running back Jonathan Stewart has 153 carries for 486 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 6 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey has 76 carries for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 59 catches for 468 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Cameron Artis-Payne will also get a few carries and also has a touchdown run.
Receiver Devin Funchess has 50 catches for 643 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with a toe injury. Ed Dickson has 26 catches for 397 yards and a touchdown. Russell Shepard has 14 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. Curtis Samuel has 15 catches for 115 yards. Tight end Greg Olson returned last week with a broken foot, but he is out again this week. Kelvin Benjamin has 32 catches for 475 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was traded to the Buffalo Bills for draft picks. Thirteen defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
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New Orleans is outscoring teams 29-20 this season. New Orleans is #4 in scoring. The Saints average 409 yards per game on offense including 267 passing and 142 rushing yards. The Saints are in the top three in all three categories. On defense, New Orleans allows 335 yards per game including 222 passing and 113 rushing yards. New Orleans is 60/144 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 59/150. The Saints have forced 31 sacks and allowed 13 this season. New Orleans is +3 in turnovers. The Saints have scored four defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Drew Brees has completed 71.3% of his passes for 3,029 yards with 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 22 carries for 16 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has been sacked 13 times.
Running back Mark Ingram has 166 carries for 837 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 218 yards. Alvin Kamara has 77 carries for 546 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 54 catches for 548 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Receiver Michael Thomas has 70 catches for 805 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ted Ginn, Jr. has 42 catches for 641 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Coby Fleener has 22 catches for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a concussion. Brandon Coleman has 16 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Thirteen defensive players and four offensive linemen are on the injury report for the Saints.
The underdog has covered the last six games in this series. The road team is 23-9 ATS in this series recently. The Panthers are 12-4 ATS against the Saints recently in New Orleans.
The over is 5-1 both overall and in New Orleans in this series. The Saints have covered the last five games against the Panthers.
This is a battle of the Saints’ explosive offense against the Panthers’ bruising defense. Carolina simply can’t score enough points to get into a shootout with New Orleans. I like the Saints to win by pulling away in the fourth.
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