New Orleans have been on the decline for a couple of seasons now, but the Saints are 0-2 and what is worse, Drew Brees might not play this week. Waiting for the Saints will be their NFC South rivals from Carolina, who are 2-0 and playing hard-nosed football on both sides of the line, and a win would be a huge blow for New Orleans.
Opening Odds & Line Movement
Open: -3 -110 at Pinnacle
The NFL odds opened at -3 for the Panthers and has since moved to -3.5, and if it turns out that Brees can't play, it might double towards the Panthers. Brees is synonymous with the Saints and if you asked anyone who the New Orleans backup was under center, even the most hard-pressed fan would have to think about it really hard (Luke McCown is listed second on the depth chart, or the Saints could go with Garrett Grayson). The Panthers have no such problem with Cam Newton, who flipped his way onto the highlight reel with a touchdown against Houston.
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S Jairus Byrd (knee) and CB Keenan Lewis (hip) are at least practicing this week, while WR Brandin Cooks (ankle) is a question mark. But Brees is the key with his banged-up shoulder, and everyone has noticed that his arm strength, while never a cannon, has gone down drastically. Brees was hit in the loss to Tampa Bay, but he is also 36 years old and in his 15th season in the NFL. He has been relatively healthy throughout his career, but Father Time is undefeated and like Denver' Peyton Manning, you'll see glimpses of the old Brees occasionally, but not for prolonged stretches.
For the Panthers, LB Luke Kuechly is still dealing with concussion issues and the Panthers are taking it slowly with their prized defensive captain, and he might be a gametime decision. You should probably lean towards Kuechly sitting out, but keep a close eye on the Carolina injury report.
New Orleans has struggled with the spread recently, covering just once in their last six games, while Carolina has covered in four of five, along with a push. However, the Saints can be dangerous on the road, where they're 4-2 in their last six games, while the Panthers are 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 at home.
Head to head, the Panthers are 4-6 SU in their last 10 meetings with the Saints, who have covered in just four of those games. In Carolina, the Panthers are 5-5 both SU and ATS in their last 10 with New Orleans.
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