For the first time in years, the (10-4) New Orleans Saints have some different competition in the NFC South in the form of the (10-4) Carolina Panthers. In what is sure to be a pivotal matchup, the stakes have never been higher (Sunday 1pm ET).
Can New Orleans Overcome their Road Woes? For the Saints, there is a big difference between reaching the playoffs as a wildcard team as opposed to getting there as the winner of the NFC South. For starters, they would likely end up as the 2nd seed in the NFC if they won their division. This is a pretty big deal but most importantly is the caveat that comes with it. If the Saints win the South, all roads to the NFC Championship would go through the Superdome.
Obviously home field advantage is important but in New Orleans’ case it might be the best and only way for the team to advance far in the postseason.
The Saints have lost four of their last five games on the road. The road woes are actually a big reason as to why the Saints have had their fair share of struggles this year. Away from the Superdome, they only average 18.4 points a game. This is compared to 32.9 points at home, which amounts to about two more touchdowns per game.
Most notably and recently, the Saints suffered their worst loss of the season on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Whether it was crowd noise or it being mostly mental, New Orleans scored just seven points as the Seahawks exploded for 34. Both numbers were the worst outputs for the Saints this season.
Whatever the reason, even dating back to last year (6-9 in last 15 road games), the Saints just haven’t been successful away from New Orleans.
Can Carolina Continue its Home Dominance? For as poorly as the Saints have played on the road this season, the Panthers have been just that good at home.
In 2013, the Panthers have gone 6-1 when playing in the confines of Bank of America Stadium. They have won each of their last six at home and have gone 5-0-1 ATS as well. For this game, the Panthers are three-point favorites and based on some of the other trends (4-1 SU at home against the Saints in their last five), it is safe to trust the spread.
The Saints did beat the Panthers 31-13 the last time these two teams faced but that was in New Orleans. Away from the Superdome, the Saints are a different team. And at home, the Panthers are one of the best in the NFL. The advantage here definitely goes to the Panthers.
New Orleans Offense vs. Carolina Defense
For the past couple of years the New Orleans Saints have had one of the best offenses in the NFL. It was because of this offense that the team won the Super Bowl in 2009 and why they have been formidable ever since. This season is no different.
The Saints have the league’s second best passing offense behind only the Denver Broncos. New Orleans is also fifth in total yards and 10th in total points. This mark would be even higher if not for the team’s struggles on the road.
New Orleans’ offense has really struggled on the road this season and this only serves as an advantage to the Panthers. While the Saints’ offense is nowhere near as fearful on the road, Carolina’s defense is just as good whether home or away.
On the year, the Panthers have the league’s second best overall defense. They are second in points allowed with 14.9, second in yards allowed, second in rush yards and fifth in pass yards allowed.
As teams have found out this season, the Saints are not an easy team to stop. Their offense is loaded with weapons and captained by Drew Brees (pictured above), who is one of the best modern day passers currently in the game. On the year, Brees has passed for 4,500 yards and is second among all QBs with 34 TDs and a 64.2 completion percentage.
Brees has utilized his two top weapons, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham to huge levels of success this year. Colston is closing in on his seventh season of 1,000+ receiving yards and Graham, with 14 TDs, is close to breaking Rob Gronkowski’s record setting mark of 17 from 2011. All of this is because of Brees.
And while Carolina’s defense has been stellar this year, they haven’t really had the chance to face too many passers of Brees’ quality. The only other QB in that same category Carolina faced was Tom Brady and he managed 296 yards and a TD. Earlier in the year when the Panthers faced Brees, the team allowed him to pass for 313 yards and four TD.
Big-game and big name QBs have been a problem for the Panthers and there really is none bigger than Brees. Home or away, he could cause the Carolina defense some serious problems.
Saints at Panthers Betting Picks Conclusion
The Panthers have the clear edge of being at home and they also have one of the league’s best defenses. The team is one of the hottest in the NFL as well right now. All signs point to a Carolina win.
However, the Saints offense is not easy to stop. They may score much less on the road but betting against Brees always has its risks. That said, the Saints have not helped bettors this year as they have struggled against the spread both as favorites and underdogs.
- Take the Panthers with confidence to beat the three-point handicap on the spread @ betting odds of -120 with BetOnline or Bovada sportsbooks.
- An easy pick here is over 46.5 total points since both teams seem to bring out the scoring against one another. You can get -110 over 46.5pts with Bovada and -105 over 47pts with BetOnline. We would err on the side of caution and take the former.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.