Many would have thought the undefeated 11-0 Carolina Panthers and the 4-7 New Orleans Saints would’ve had flipped records in 2015. It was supposed to be yet another solid season for Sean Payton’s team, while nobody could have imagined the Panthers to be this dominant. But here we are, and with really only pride to play for, it’s going to be difficult to envision the Saints knocking the Panthers from their undefeated perch. New Orleans showed a slight defensive improvement last week with Dennis Allen at the helm over Rob Ryan, but they’ll receive a much stiffer test in Week 13. This promises to be an intriguing divisional showdown, how can it not be with an undefeated team still alive? So read on below for a full game breakdown and analysis for the Panthers and the Saints.
Panthers vs. Saints Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers -7 (-105)
@ New Orleans Saints +7 (-115)
Over 50 (-110)
Under 50 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Saints Pick:
Back when these teams met in Week 3 it was a very close and exciting affair. Carolina squeaked out a 5-point victory over New Orleans, and you can bet the Saints would like to flip the script this week. When the Saints have the ball, it’ll be a case of New Orleans’ strength going against Carolina’s defensive strength. The Saints rank third in the NFL in total offense, but have stumbled of late. Of course, it’s not going to get any easier going against the ferocious defensive unit the Panthers possess. Carolina is very aggressive and for New Orleans to be successful, look for them to use play action to make Carolina respect the threat of their running game. If they can show a commitment to using Mark Ingram on a regular basis, it could have the Panthers’ defense guessing, and be less effective than usual. Mark Ingram is a solid back and should be utilized more here in Week 13. Expect a balanced approach from the Saints, and a vintage outing from Drew Brees and his talented receiving corps.
Even though the Saints have the ability to put up some points, can they prevent them with enough consistency to remain in this football game? That’s a tough one. Look for the physical Brandon Browner to be matched up against the physically dominant tight end, Greg Olsen. The Panthers don’t have too many aerial threats for Cam Newton, but Olsen is the biggest one. If Browner can limit Olsen, it might be tough for Carolina to move the chains with regularity on Sunday. On the ground though has to be New Orleans’ primary focus. They’ve been gashed at times on the ground and they’ll need to at least limit the Panthers’ big, bruising back in Jonathan Stewart. The 240-pounder has 832 rushing yards in 2015, and look for the Saints to use strong safety Kenny Vaccaro to help out in limiting that run game. These changes should limit the Panthers but won’t stop their attack. This is going to be a challenge for a mostly overmatched Saints squad, but they possess the talent and ability to make things interesting.
Ultimately I think the Panthers will move to 12-0, but not before facing a real major scare. The Saints do a lot of things well on offense, and the changes Dennis Allen has made to the defense should confuse Carolina in the early going. I see them hanging around and getting the cover.
PICK = Saints +7 (-115)