There will be plenty at stake when the Carolina Panthers (6-7) host the New Orleans Saints (11-2) on Monday Night Football to conclude Week 15. Kickoff is set for 8:15 EST at Bank of America Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.
Taking a look at the Week 15 NFL odds, the books currently have the Saints listed as a 6.5-point road favorite with the total set at 50.5 points.
Saints vs Panthers Vegas Betting & Game Preview
New Orleans comes into this one off a 28-14 win at Tampa Bay, covering as a 9.5-point favorite. It was bitter sweet revenge for the Saints, who opened up the season with a shocking 48-40 loss at home to the Buccaneers. New Orleans is now a ridiculous 10-3 ATS on the season and that’s after starting the year 0-2 against the spread. Thanks to the Rams loss at Chicago, the Saints are now back in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed.
Carolina enters off a 28-20 road loss to the Browns as a 1-point road favorite. That’s now 5 straight losses for the Panthers, who after starting the season at 6-2 are now going into Week 15 with a losing record. Remarkably they are still right in the thick of things for a Wild Card spot, but would more than likely need to win out to make it. Carolina has not covered a single spread during their 5-game losing streak and have actually been favored in 4 of the 5.
Due to a scheduling quirk, this will actually be the first of two meetings between these division rivals over the final 3 weeks, as they will face off at New Orleans in Week 17. These two met three times last year, twice in the regular season and again in the playoffs. The Saints won all 3. New Orleans covered both regular-season meetings in double-digit wins, but it was Carolina who cashed a winning ticket as a 6.5-point road dog in a 31-26 loss in the playoffs. All 3 games saw a combined score of at least 47 and all 3 games went OVER the total.
Free NFL Pick & Odds Predictions: OVER 50.5
My gut is telling me to take the Panthers, as the public will be all over the Saints, I just can’t bet against New Orleans laying less the a touchdown. With the way that team can score, it’s really not asking a lot for them to win by 7 points.
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I get the Panthers will be out for revenge and their season is on the line, but this is a huge game for the Saints in terms of getting that No. 1 seed and homefield in the playoffs. They have to assume the Rams are going to win out, so they have to do the same. I also think do-or-die situations are a bit overrated. I think Carolina has had to feel like their last 3 games were must-wins and they failed to win any of those. New Orleans has also covered 4 straight on the Panthers’ home field.
So while I would definitely lean towards the Saints on the spread, my strongest lean in this game is the OVER. For whatever reason, these two have a history of playing high-scoring games. The OVER cashed in all 3 meetings between these two teams last year and is 7-1 in the last 8 overall.
A big reason for that is the Panthers defense hasn’t figured out a way to slow down Brees and the Saints offense. New Orleans had at least 31 points in all 3 meetings last year and have scored 30 or more in 5 of the last 6 in the series. It really shouldn’t be a big surprise. The Panthers defense hasn’t been great in the secondary and are more built to stop the run behind star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Their secondary can be exposed and few are better at dicing up defensive backs than Sean Payton and Brees.
This year is no different for Carolina. They come into this game ranked 7th against the run but are a mere 20th agains the pass. They also don’t do a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback, as they rank in the bottom 10 in sacks this year.
As for the Saints offensive struggles the last two games, I think a big part of that was both Dallas and Tampa Bay have been getting after the quarterback. Cowboys have been doing it all season and the Bucs have made major improvements in that area since switching defensive coordinators.
I think it’s reasonable to expect around 30 points from New Orleans, which means we only need something like 21-24 from Carolina. The Panthers can move the football. They are 9th in the NFL in total offense at 378.1 ypg. They are also lighting up the scoreboard at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina comes in averaging 30.8 ppg at home. Give me the OVER 50.5!