Carolina Panthers (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CAR -3/NO +3
Over/Under Total: 53
The Carolina Panthers come to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints in NFC South action on Sunday. The Saints were 0-3 and on the road with a bye pending and were able to score two touchdowns to go into the week off with a good feeling as they registered a 35-34 win over San Diego on the road in week four. In week one, they had come up short in a 35-34 loss when the Raiders converted a late two. After losing their next two, a road win in San Diego really hit the spot. They now host a Panthers team that has really let things get away from them with a 1-4 start. Without Cam Newton on Monday Night Football, they lost a 17-14 home game to a Tampa team that had lost three games in a row. They need to make something happen quick and need to do so on the road against a rested Saints team coming off a win.
Really, you couldn't script a better win for the Saints to go into the bye week. Going to 0-4, which really seemed imminent against the constantly-spiraling Chargers, would have been a tough pill to swallow with two weeks to think about it. A win here and they're 2-3 and who knows? Still, the issues for the Saints are numerous. Drew Brees was able to return to his old stomping grounds in week 4 and engineer one of his best comebacks. The offense can still be explosive, though more in spurts than in their glory days. They just haven't been getting much support on the other side of the ball and that threatens to undermine the whole Saints' season.
Against the Chargers, the Saints defense was able to hold San Diego late and secure some turnovers to enable the offense to do its thing. But against San Diego, that's more the norm than an aberration. They still gave up a ton of offense and in their other three losses, the defense had approached slapstick status. To say they're the worst defense in the league wouldn't be an outrageous statement at all. They made some plays in their last game, but this "D" has one pick and has already committed a comedy of errors through a quarter of the season. Opponents are at 8.2 yards per pass play and a 4.4 rushing average.
Drew Brees is still a handful, seemingly impervious to age and wear. He makes the most of a less-than-ideal crew of talent. Since being with the Saints, he's never had a Pro-Bowler to throw to. Though he's still a useful weapon on the ground and in the short-passing game, Mark Ingram has been lukewarm through four games. Vet John Kuhn is a solid short-yardage guy and has four touchdowns. The aerial attack is loaded, with Willie Snead, Brandin Cooks, and promising rookie Michael Thomas leading the way, along with viable targets Coby Fleener, Brandon Coleman, and Travaris Cadet.
The problems for the Panthers are too numerous to name. Losing Newton briefly with a concussion is only part of the issue. But for last season's MVP, the 2016 season has been pretty thin on positive developments. He has been battered in some games and perhaps as a result, doesn't seem himself. Derek Anderson is not a good solution as he showed on Sunday and they really need Newton back in there. But again, there are other issues at play. While Cameron Artis-Payne offered some promise on MNF with two TD runs on 85 yards rushing. They're still not getting the same balance on offense they were getting last season. Getting Jonathan Stewart could help.
On defense, we see a Carolina team struggling to find its mojo. They're giving up 27 points a game even after holding Tampa to a respectable 17 on MNF. The line is still the same as is the fearsome middle, but the pass-defense has suffered in recent weeks. Maybe losing Josh Norman was the key or injuries have robbed them of their fire, but it's not the same group. They're losing the turnover battle 14-to-7 this season. The pass rush isn't as consistent as last season.
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Still, this is the defending conference champion. On top of that, they're a team that has been able to shake off bad times in the past, going on big winning streaks when least suspected. Maybe their formula for success was a delicate one and has been disrupted too much. Whatever the case, they still have ample firepower. The aerial attack, if Newton can come back and take full advantage of it, is stocked with Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin, and a bevy of role receivers with proven track records.
At the same time, we don't want to throw money down the drain waiting for the Panthers to come around, something where there's no guarantees. No one is given success in this league, as the Panthers well know after a 1-4 start. After one loss last season, it has to be jarring to be in this predicament. And with Newton not being given an early go-ahead for next week, you wonder where he's at. I just see this game being a bit more low-scoring than what some are forecasting.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm going under 53 points in the Carolina vs. New Orleans game. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Carolina vs. New Orleans game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!