When the Saints hosted the Panthers in week 4, many people expected the Saints to come away with an easy victory. Carolina had played poorly in the weeks leading up to the game, and the Saints were primed to take advantage of a weak team and embarrass them in front of the Louisiana faithful. But the Panthers fought hard and played well, losing 16-14. This week the Saints travel to Carolina in a rematch, and we see a battle between two NFC South teams that have been more inconsistent this year than anything else.
The Panthers have gone back to Matt Moore after Jimmy Clausen proved that he’s not yet ready to start on a weekly basis. As bad as the Panthers have been offensively this year (ranked last in points and yards per game) they’re better with Moore behind centre. In Moore’s last home game he looked better than he did before Clausen took over. Against the Niners two weeks ago, Moore threw for over 300 yards and 2 TD’s in a 23-20 victory. The run game has been bad this year, which is a huge letdown as the Panthers have historically been very successful running the ball with John Fox as their head coach. They’re averaging 85 yards per game on the ground as a team this year, far below their league leading rushing yards two years ago with Williams and Stewart splitting carries. DeAngelo Williams will miss his second straight start this week, so Jonathan Stewart will take his 2.8 yards per carry average this season against the Saints who do an average job of stopping the run (108 yards per game allowed). One thing the Panthers do have going for them is their pass D. They’re ranked 4th in passing yards allowed and 4th in total yards allowed. This will bode well against a Saints offense that’s found it hard to click this year.
Reports came out earlier in the week that Drew Brees has been playing on a torn ligament in his knee, but Coach Sean Payton squashed the rumors within hours. Perhaps Payton should’ve run with the excuses, as Brees’ timing and accuracy has been off all year. He’s already thrown 11 interceptions, the same number of picks he had all last season. The Saints running game’s been an issue, as starter Pierre Thomas has found himself on the bench nursing and injury the last 3 weeks while Reggie Bush fractured his leg and has missed several weeks. The Saints impressed with a win versus the Steelers last week, and look like they could be turning things around, but they face a tough test against a desperate Carolina team that needs their second win of the year.
Saints vs. Panthers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints -7
@ Carolina Panthers -7
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Saints vs. Panthers Prediction for Week 9 Betting:
Game Total Prediction (Top Play): I recommended playing the Under when these two teams met in week 4, and I’m going right back to it as my top play this week. The Panthers are struggling to score, ranking dead last in points with 12 per game, and they’ve had a habit of slowing New Orleans down when these two teams have met recently in Carolina. Last year on week 17, the Panthers held the Saints to 10 points, and in 2008 they held them to 7 points, in Carolina. Couple those stats with the fact that the Under is 7-0 in the last 7 in Carolina, and the Under is 6-1 in the last 7 overall, and I’ll take the Under again in this one.
Spread Prediction: The 7 points that are being laid is an overreaction to the way the Saints played last week. They generally play much better on Prime Time and last week they were in a good situation as a home underdog. But like I mentioned before, the Panthers pass D knows how to slow Brees down, and I think the odds makers are giving too many points. The Panthers are a bad team, but for every bad team you get a few good performances each year, and Carolina can keep this game close.