NFL Picks: Panthers Offense to Earn Them a Victory vs. Saints

Swinging Johnson

Monday, October 27, 2014 5:22 PM GMT

Last week the Saints marched all over the Packers while the Panthers wilted late against the Seahawks but which side is the right choice in our NFL picks on Thursday night?

New Orleans Saints (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
On a day when Drew Brees launched for three touchdown strikes, 311 passing yards on a surgically precise 27-of-32 in leading his Saints over the Green Bay Packers he was not even the big story in the NFL last week. That distinction belongs to Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady who combined for a staggering 11 TD’s, 876 aerial yards on 70-of-84 passing. Looks like arena football stats but it actually happened on the NFL gridiron and on the same historic day.

Nevertheless, Brees was tremendous as was the rushing attack led by Mark Ingram who chewed up the Packers rush defense to the tune of 172 yards and a trip inside the endzone. The Saints were installed as two-point home favorites in NFL odds headed into Sunday night’s date with the always dangerous Packers. And though the 44-23 final score indicated it was Mardi Gras inside the Superdome, the halftime score told a different tale as the teams were knotted at 16 points apiece. But then the Saints’ first round-pick of this year Brandin Cooks got things rolling in the third quarter when he took a 50 yard Brees pass to the house and gave the home team a lead they would never relinquish.

 

Carolina Panthers (3-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)
The Panthers put a scare into the defending Super Bowl champs but ultimately the Seahawks found a way to win late unlike last week when they were caught flat-footed by a St. Louis fake punt that sealed their fate late in the fourth quarter. When the game kicked the Panthers were handed a six-point head start by the NFL oddsmakers and though they lost the game 13-9, all those who included Cam Newton and his Panthers in their NFL picks were rewarded with an ATS cover.

Cam Newton looked sharp in the first half as he outmuscled the Seahawks defensive rushing attack to deter what would have been more than one sack and picked up yardage in the process. But even with his sheer power and elusiveness he gained only 19 yards on 10 rushes which were the single most rushing attempts of his career at halftime.  However, after the half Newton was shut down as the Hawks continued to swarm and the Panthers offensive line began to succumb limiting the Carolina quarterback to only five rushing yards after the break. The only true highlight offensively for the Cats was a 51-yard carnival catch from Kelvin Benjamin who went up and over stalwart defensive back Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas to make the grab.

 

Free NFL Pick
While it’s easy to review this matchup and blindly back the Saints in your NFL picks because of their prolific game against the Packers we should keep in mind that the Panthers defense has given up less points per game than the Saints, has more sacks and interceptions. In addition, Carolina allows 243.3 passing yards/game (18th) while the Saints have the 31st ranked passing defense surrendering 289.3 yards per game. The only major defensive category that New Orleans bests Carolina is in rushing yards allowed, 135.2 (28th) vs. 101.1 (10th).

After reviewing this matchup and the NFL odds it’s simply a matter of weighing the Panthers superior defense versus the Saints prolific offense. Even though Carolina allowed only 13 points last week much of that can be attributed to errors on Russell Wilson’s part and a Seattle offense that was mistake prone all afternoon. However, the Panthers are at home and have gone 4-0 straight up and against the spread over the past four contests with New Orleans.

I realize the Saints will not bring the same level of pressure as the Seahawks but they will more than make up for it on offense. I cannot see the Panthers trading scores with a juggernaut like the Saints who average 28.4 PPG (5th) while the Panthers average less than 21 points per game (24th). But here’s the big however coming your way. The Panthers offense can easily exploit the Saints’ subpar defensive crew and I am certain this defensive front will give Brees problems on a short week with little time to prepare. In addition, New Orleans is coming off a huge win while the Panthers are no doubt bemoaning the fact they let a victory slip away. The Cats are due.

NFL Picks: Carolina Panthers at a pick (-120) at 5Dimes.com

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