One of the best games in Week 13 is a divisional clash from the NFC South. Cam Newton will take his Carolina Panthers on the road to do battle with the New Orleans Saints. Both squads enter this pivotal showdown with identical 8-3 records, and you can bet this match-up will have playoff implications in just a few weeks time. It should also be noted that both Carolina and New Orleans will likely know the result of Atlanta’s earlier match-up vs. Minnesota before they take the field. If the Falcons win at home, it will put even more pressure on these two teams come Sunday.
Carolina fended off a slow start from their stud QB Newton to jump out to this impressive record, and though they won’t have Greg Olsen again at tight end – they remain a team that can cause a ton of issues on either side of the football. The Saints meanwhile are also probably a surprising 8-3 team, one that’s been fueled by a power running attack and some solid defense.
This has all the makings of a classic affair with lots of points put up on the board. Read on below for analysis, a game breakdown, and an official betting prediction for Saints and Panthers in Week 13.
Panthers vs. Saints Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers +5 (-115)
@ New Orleans Saints -5 (-105)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Saints Pick:
The first time these two teams played this season, Alvin Kamara had just three touches of the football. You can bet that won’t be the case in Week 13 as the Saints’ offense has changed drastically since then. Last week, Los Angeles simply couldn’t stop the bruising back, and the Panthers should definitely be preparing for a steady dose of Kamara come Sunday afternoon.
Carolina has been solid at defending other teams’ running backs this year, but facing Kamara will be a new and unique challenge for their front seven. He is powerful and elusive, and sets up Drew Brees quite well for short-yardage situations and on passing downs. The Panthers are also brutal at the moment within their secondary. Last week in New York, Robby Anderson made them look silly time and time again. Josh McCown looked like Drew Brees, so you can only imagine what Brees will be able to do if he gets time and space to operate out of the pocket. The Saints do have some offensive line concerns, with Terron Armstead being listed as questionable. If he does play, look out – as Brees should be able to find his crew of talented receivers downfield with regularity.
On defense, last week the Saints were without their talented corner Marshon Lattimore – and they felt the impact. He’s listed as questionable for Week 13, and again it stresses the importance of checking the pre-game injury report. For what it’s worth, I think he’ll play as it seems as if Lattimore is trending towards it. With Lattimore back, he’ll effectively lock down Devin Funchess. He’s been very solid ever since Kelvin Benjamin was dealt, and Lattimore should be able to blanket the rangy receiver.
One area where New Orleans may struggle is limiting Newton’s effectiveness as a runner and especially when he gets out of the pocket and scrambles. When these teams faced off in Week 3 last, Newton wasn’t 100% – but he seems a lot healthier now and will pose challenges for the Saints’ front seven. Limiting Newton and to a lesser extent Christian McAffrey coming out of the backfield will be key to stuffing the Panthers.
The Saints do have a lot of injury question marks, but for such a big game I’d expect all of their key guys to tough it out and suit up. Again, have a look at the active list about an hour before kickoff on Sunday. New Orleans is also slated to take on the Falcons in another pivotal showdown in just four games, but both of these contests will play key roles in deciding whether or not they will be playoff teams come January. I’d expect the Saints’ big guns to suit up, as I feel the line is currently reflecting this. New Orleans enters as the better team on both sides of the football, and if they can limit Newton’s scrambles – they’ll use the home crowd to their benefit and pull away with their power running game.
PICK = Saints -5 (-105)