Early NFL Odds Favor Saints -8.5 Against Panthers

Nikki Adams

Monday, December 1, 2014 1:20 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 1:20 PM UTC

New Orleans Saints defied the NFL odds to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Can they carry that momentum into the Superdome when they host divisional foes Carolina Panthers in week 14 NFL betting? Here's a preview of this clash complete with NFL free picks for your wagering tickets. 

New Orleans Saints (5-7 SU, 3-3)
Opening NFL Odds:-8.5
New Orleans Saints improved to 5-7 SU behind a 35-32 upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the road no less, in week 13 NFL betting, all while cashing as the +175 underdogs on the road and 3.5-point road pups against the spread. Saints ran away with a 28-13 lead through the first three quarters and advanced the lead to 36-16 early in the final quarter, only for a late surge by the Steelers to come just shy of tying the game.

The Saints arrived in Pittsburgh on the heels of a three-game skid at home. Needless to say, they desperately needed the win in order to keep postseason hopes alive. That they finally got a W in the column augurs well. That they accomplished the feat on the road, against the NFL odds, is even better.

Drew Brees and the Saints protected the ball well, better than they have all season long. Brees went 19-of-27 for 257 yards and five touchdowns, channelling the form of his heydays all of a sudden. The best development in this game was the pulse the Saints' defense showed after being comatose for most of the season, albeit they did allow the Steelers to acquire 538 yards in total offense (435 passing yards by Big Ben alone). Nevertheless, they harassed Big Ben, forced turnovers/interceptions and a slew of uncharacteristic mistakes by the Steelers' playmaker.

The NFC South is a tired-looking division with each and every single team performing below the .500 mark. Still, the title is up for grabs. The Saints, who were preseason favourites to clinch the division,  just took an important step towards that end.

Carolina Panthers (3-8-1 SU, 1-4-1 away)
Opening NFL Odds: +8.5
Carolina Panthers slipped to their sixth straight defeat following a 31-13 loss to Minnesota Vikings in week 14 NFL betting. The loss also marked their third straight loss on the road since tying the Bengals 37-37 in overtime in week 6 NFL betting.

The Panthers are a team in transition this season, dealing with a whole slew of unexpected challenges. Although they  got off to a modest start with a 3-2-1 SU record in their first six games, they've been on a steady decline since their date with the Bengals. Somehow, the wheels have come undone. It's as if they'd expended all their energy reserves in that one game. Cam Newton is clearly not 100% since his ankle surgery. His form is steadily declining as the season presses forward, he can't seem to find a rhythm with his receiving corps and defense is suspect altogether.

That said the Panthers are only two wins behind the New Orleans Saints with four games left on the schedule. In most cases, a 3-8 SU record would have a side written out of the divisional title conversation. In the special case of the NFC South, it's still up for grabs.

NFL Betting Verdict: Saints over Panthers
Last season, the Saints beat the Panthers 31-13 at home, cashing easily as the 3-point home favourites. Then the Panthers were a much better team that went on to clinch the division title. Certainly,  they don't have that look about them this season. Truth be told, the Panthers look to have thrown in the towel already.

Indeed, Saints are already 1-0 SU in the series having beaten the Panthers 28-10 on the road in week 9 NFL betting, underscoring their NFL odds as the 3-point road chalk. Clearly, the double-digit victory saw the Saints cover as the 3-point road chalk handily.

Saints may be just 2-4 ATS at home this season with a 1.8-point margin of victory, but most NFL bettors are likely to put stock in their 9-5 ATS record and 11-3 SU record at home since 2013 that boasts an 11.3-point margin of victory, and blithely ignore the unpleasant memory of the three-game losing skid at the Superdome. Bookies seem to be doing exactly just that, putting stock in past trends all while overlooking recent home form to send the Saints as the prohibitive favourites at home, anywhere from 8.5-to-9.5-points across sports betting exchanges. That's just par for the course in the schizophrenic NFC South: just as a team is written off by NFL bettors and bookies, they go and turn the tables on all and sundry. At least, so it has been with the increasingly inconsistent and frustrating Saints.

Saints are after a big win over Big Ben and the Steelers on the road. They should ride the momentum into the Superdome with a second consecutive win over the Panthers. Shade the Saints on your NFL pick as the 8.5-point home chalk.

Free NFL Pick: Saints -8.5

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