Thursday Night Football – Week 11 – New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers – Free Preview and Betting Prediction
When the season started, this had to one Thursday Night Football game that bettors and fans alike had circled on the calendar. Due to the struggles of both franchises, it doesn’t have quite the feel that it did when the schedule came out, but it is still Cam Newton versus Drew Brees in primetime. That counts for something, right?
These division rivals did meet five weeks ago in the Big Easy. That was a game New Orleans won 41-38, on the back of a 465-yard passing, four-touchdown performance by Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees.
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The betting odds opened with the Panthers -4. The odds have moved to -3.5 or -3, depending on your sportsbook. The Saints have seen more of the betting action, but not what would we call lopsided action. Close to 60 percent of all wagers have been placed on New Orleans.
The total opened at 53.5 points but moved to 52 points shortly after opening. It goes in the face of betting action, where nearly 80 percent of bets have been placed on the over so far.
The Saints – Still in Business
Many didn’t figure New Orleans to compete for a playoff seed this year, particularly after a season last year, which saw them deploy one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Their offseason acquisitions didn’t do a lot to improve on those numbers, but the Saints offense is still one of the best in the league.
New Orleans lots in one of the most gut-wrenching ways possible in Week 10. After tying the game late in regulation against the Denver with a touchdown – the Broncos blocked the extra point. However, they not only blocked it but returned it to the opposing end zone for a 2-pt conversion, winning the game 25-23.
It was a game the Saints should have won, if not for the fluke play. The loss dropped them to 4-5 record and a second-place tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Atlanta leading the division with just a 6-4 record, the Saints are still in the hunt for the division crown. They will face the Bucs twice in the final seven weeks of the year.
The Panthers – Postseason Prospects Are Grim
Carolina isn’t playing for pride just yet, (they’re still statistically capable of making the postseason) but a loss tonight would make it nearly impossible for them to reach the playoffs, just a year after winning the NFC Championship.
Carolina led 17-13 at half last week against the visiting Chiefs, but failed to score any points in the second half and lost by a score of 20-17. The loss put the Panthers’ record at 3-6, last place in the division. The 3-6 mark is also the third worst record in the NFC, only behind the Bears (2-7) and 49ers (1-8).
It’s likely been a tough year for you if you’ve been betting on the Panthers this year, but don’t write them off completely yet. Last week’s game at Kansas City was a “must-win” game for Carolina. They’re not fully out of the playoff race just yet, but a seventh loss would effectively end any chance they had of making the postseason.
Let’s also remember that New Orleans is a considerably worst team on the road than they are at home. As described above, they’re coming off as heartbreaking of a loss as possible for a regular season game. This isn’t a great spot for the Saints, to say the least.
It was good to see Cam Newton using his legs last week, despite the loss. Newton has always fared well against New Orleans, whether at home or in the Superdome. I expect a similar performance tonight. In his past three games against the Saints, he’s thrown for nearly 1,000 total yards and thrown for nine touchdowns to go with just two interceptions.
Yes, Carolina’s secondary is a disaster. However, it’s gotten better in the past few weeks. I expect the Panthers to score early and often this week and for the Saints to play with a bit less motivation after their crushing loss last week on a short week.
Pick: Panthers -3