After a very successful Week 2 at The Sports Geek, we’re back and looking for even more winners in Week 3. By now we’ve separated some of the elite teams from the struggling teams, and by now we can also realize which teams have officially entered ‘panic mode’ time. One of those teams that could be worried takes on the Carolina Panthers this week in an NFC South divisional showdown. A Drew Brees-less Saints team travels to take on Cam Newton and Co. looking for their very first win of 2015. It was expected that the Saints would top a wide open NFC South division, but as of now the Falcons and Panthers look far more impressive. And now without Drew Brees, their leader and play caller, their task to qualify for the post-season becomes much more difficult. This is a match-up filled with intrigue. Are the Saints simply going to bow down and concede, or can Luke McCown give this team a much-needed boost? Read on below for a full breakdown and an official selection to kick off the Week 3 betting week.
Saints vs. Panthers Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints +10 (-115)
@ Carolina Panthers -10 (-105)
Over 43.5 (-110)
Under 43.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Panthers Pick:
Let’s not suguarcoat things, going from Drew Brees to Luke McCown is a huge downgrade for a Saints squad desperately seeking its first victory of the season. But let’s also recall that Drew Brees has been pretty dreadful thus far, and it was glaringly obvious last week against a pretty pedestrian Bucs squad. As new QB’s typically do, look for McCown to provide a new look and maybe, just maybe, a boost for this struggling group. The Saints still have talent at many offensive positions, but going against a tough Panthers defense will be tough. C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram remain talented backs, but Carolina is excellent against the run. New Orleans won’t be able to put up huge numbers, but as long as McCown can keep his offense in the game and avoid making costly mistakes, the Saints will have a shot in this game. Without Luke Kuechly up the middle, the Panthers defense is not the same, and don’t be stunned to see the Saints surprise somewhat on Sunday when it comes to moving the chains.
The Panthers have been equally as putrid on offense as well, as this is really a team lacking any weapons for Cam Newton. But Newton himself has to take some of the responsibility. Sure his team is 2-0 but the offense isn’t clicking, and it will be interesting to see if the Panthers can reverse their fortunes against a bad Saints defense that has been torched through the first two weeks of the season. One thing the Saints may be able to hang their hats on is the fact that their defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has seemed to have gotten the better of Newton early in his career whenever these two teams face off. However they do it, New Orleans seems to keep the former Auburn product in check for the most part, and if they can do that again today, it bodes well for the Saints keeping this game tight.
For all the talk surrounding just how awful the Saints are, the Panthers are in my opinion just as bad despite a 2-0 record to date. Their offense is pathetic. Newton has no options from the pocket, and Jonathan Stewart is as mediocre of a running back as there is. The Saints defense has struggled but they’ll be able to keep their opponents in check today. On offense, New Orleans still boasts many playmakers and their revamped O-Line will be able to protect Luke McCown. A new look on offense may provide the energy boost this team sorely needs, and with a massive spread hanging currently, it’s hard not to lean the Saints way. Carolina shouldn’t be laying double digits against anybody, and for those reasons, I’m going to be rolling with New Orleans to keep things relatively tight in this divisional clash.
PICK = Saints +10 (-115)