A key game in the always competitive NFC South division kicks off Week 11 of the NFL season as the New Orleans Saints travel to last year’s NFC champs in the Carolina Panthers. What a dismal season it has been for Cam Newton and his teammates in 2016. Big things were planned after narrowly losing out on the Super Bowl last year, but as they enter this contest with a 3-6 record, it is looking like just qualifying for the post-season would be a big enough accomplishment. They’ve struggled on defence, and last week suffered a gut-wrenching, last-minute loss to the Chiefs after holding a sizeable lead.
They’ve got this in common with the Saints at least, who also feel a tad crushed following a final minute loss to the Denver Broncos on a blocked extra point that was returned for two points. It was an improbable defeat and one that makes this game all the more pivotal for New Orleans. Drew Brees and his Saints enter with a 4-5 record and know there’s no more room for error. It’s time to start thinking about playoff positioning, and this game is crucial to how the NFC all shakes out. Read on below for a full game breakdown, as well as an official betting selection to put some extra money in your bankroll to begin Week 11!
Saints vs. Panthers Betting Odds:
New Orleans Saints +3.5 (-110)
@ Carolina Panthers -3.5 (-110)
Over 52 (-110)
Under 52 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Saints vs. Panthers Pick:
I think it’s fair to say that as crushing as the Saints defeat was on Sunday, the Panthers’ defeat to the Chiefs basically buried their season. It perfectly summarized their year so far – one in which basically everything has gone wrong for Cam Newton and his teammates. Carolina was up 17-0 and somehow managed to let that lead slip away. Newton wasn’t great, and a Kelvin Benjamin fumble really hurt the team. Up front, they were still plagued by poor blocking. Without Ryan Kalil, their offensive line was more pathetic than usual, and this is something that will likely get exploited once again on a short week. New Orleans has a rejuvenated pass rush and they’ll be able to definitely get after Newton on Thursday night. Nick Fairley and Cameron Jordan can’t be blocked by anybody on the Panthers right now, and expect more hits and hurries on Newton to further frustrate the former league MVP.
Even throwing deep downfield on New Orleans has become problematic. With Delvin Breaux back in the fold for the Saints, they have been blanketing opposing wideouts. This Carolina offence will again struggle to move the chains with consistency. They’ll definitely need to rely on the run game if they’re to have a shot.
When the Saints have the football, look for their offence to keep on doing what they do – score points. New Orleans likely deserved a better fate on Sunday against Denver, and they should be able to effectively carry that momentum into Carolina on Thursday evening. With Josh Norman’s departure from the Panthers, it will definitely open things up for the Saints’ array of talented receivers. The trio of Cooks, Snead, and Thomas should all be in line for big outings. Expect Drew Brees to simply pick apart Carolina’s secondary, and to really do most of his damage through the air.
Ultimately the wrong team is the underdog in this contest. Carolina is done for this season, they know it and their fans do to. The Saints still have a shot and the incentive to even their record out at the .500 mark will push them on Thursday. New Orleans is trending in the right direction with some big defensive adjustments, and their aerial attack will simply shred the Panthers in all four quarters. Look for the Saints to win outright.
PICK = Saints +3.5 (-110)