Panthers in Must Win Mode Against Saints
Monday Night Football will have a choice matchup to end Week 15 of the NFL season. The New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers meet at Bank of America Stadium in what should be a barn burner.
The Carolina Panthers reached the midway point of the season riding a three-game winning streak. They were hot on the heels of the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. The Panthers have not won since. The team now faces the prospect of having to beat the NFC-leading Saints twice in the final three weeks to make the playoffs
The Panthers’ five-game slide included four losses on the road. The streak has them sitting among three teams that are one-half game behind Minnesota for the second wild card in the NFC.
New Orleans appeared on the verge of a second straight defeat before scoring 25 unanswered points in last week’s 28-14 win at Tampa Bay. They were able to maintain its hold on the top overall seed in the NFC.
The Saints, who swept three meetings with the Panthers last season. That included a 31-26 playoff victory. The Saints can clinch a first-round bye with a win on Monday and a loss by Chicago to Green Bay.
The Saints are 11-2 on the season. One reason is Drew Brees and the offense understandably receive the bulk of the publicity. The D should be getting some love as the unit has limited its last five opponents to 17 points or fewer. It ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 77.6 yards.
Brees has one touchdown pass and one interception in each of the last two games. He still leads the league in passer rating at 120.8 and a completion percentage at 75.7%. Brees has thrown 31 TD passes with only four interceptions. Brees has thrown for 1,521 yards with 13 TD’s, with only three picks in his last five meetings with Carolina.
He has an elite receiver in Michael Thomas. He ranks second in the NFL with 102 catches. Thomas has 298 career receptions, the most by any player in his first three seasons.
Alvin Kamara is a two-way threat out of the backfield with 1,384 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. Mark Ingram has rushed for 519 yards and five scores.
The Panthers are 6-7 on the season and have to win tonight’s matchup. Cam Newton is battling a sore throwing shoulder. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since the season opener in last week’s 26-20 loss at Cleveland. He did join Peyton Manning as the only players with 3,000 yards passing in each of their first eight seasons.
Christian McCaffrey continues to carry the offense. He rushed for two touchdowns and caught six passes last week. It gave him 1,627 yards from scrimmage and 13 scores on the season. Rookie wide receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel have emerged as Newton’s top targets. Ian Thomas made nine catches for 77 yards in place of injured tight end Greg Olsen last week. Carolina ranks seventh in run defense (97.8 yards).
PREDICTION: Saints 34, Panthers 28
NFL Betting Odds & Trends
|New Orleans Saints|
|The Saints are 10-1 ATS in its last 11 games|
|New Orleans is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New Orleans’s last 5 games|
|The Saints are 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games on the road|
|New Orleans is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games on the road|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New Orleans’s last 6 games on the road|
|The Saints are 5-1-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Carolina|
|New Orleans is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Carolina|
|The total has gone OVER in 7 of New Orleans’s last 8 games when playing Carolina|
|The Saints are 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Carolina|
|The total has gone UNDER in 11 of New Orleans’s last 15 games when playing on the road against Carolina|
|The Panthers are 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games|
|Carolina is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games|
|The Panthers are 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games at home|
|Carolina is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games at home|
|The total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina’s last 5 games at home|
|Carolina is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing New Orleans|
|The Panthers are 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing New Orleans|
|The total has gone OVER in 7 of Carolina’s last 8 games when playing New Orleans|
|The Panthers are 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against New Orleans|
|Carolina is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against New Orleans|
|The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Carolina’s last 15 games when playing at home against New Orleans|
New Orleans home to Pittsburgh Sunday, December 23
Carolina home to Atlanta Sunday, December 23
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