NFC South division rivals will meet this weekend as the Carolina Panthers play host to the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 24 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game can be seen in local markets on Fox.

Carolina enters the game as 5.5-point favorites against their division rivals. The over/under for the game is 48 points. Click here for a full list of the Week 3 betting odds and links to more game previews.

Saints vs Panthers Vegas Betting Preview

These two teams enter Sunday’s game moving in opposite directions. The Saints have already put themselves in a deep hole after starting the season 0-2. Through two weeks, the New Orleans defense has given up the second most points in the NFL, which is the main reason for the winless record. 

In fairness, an away game against the Vikings and a home date with the Patriots did not make for an easy schedule. Drew Brees has done his best to keep his team in games, but it’s not been enough to overcome a porous New Orleans secondary. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 80% of their passes against the Saints, who have yet to force a turnover this season.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Panthers, who are 2-0 and have the best defense in football, allowing just six total points in their first two games. Granted, the 49ers and Bills don’t have explosive offenses, but only giving up three points to any team in this league is a great accomplishment. 

Offensively, the Panthers have yet to find much rhythm. Carolina is averaging less than three yards per rush on the ground, while Cam Newton is still working his shoulder back into shape after offseason surgery, which has limited how many chances the Panthers are taking downfield. Of course, when the defense holds a team to three points, you can get away with only scoring nine points, as the Panthers did last week against the Bills.

These two teams split their two meetings last year, with the home team winning by a field goal in each matchup. I would expect a similar scoreline on Sunday.

Free Pick & Odds Predictions: Saints +5.5

I’m actually going to lean toward the 0-2 Saints in this matchup, at least to beat the spread. The Panthers are stout defensively, but they’ll be challenged this week by the New Orleans offense. More importantly, the Panthers don’t have the kind of offense that’s going to blow out many teams, so I see this being a field goal game, giving the edge to New Orleans against the spread.

Despite the 0-2 record, the New Orleans offense is still in good shape. Brees is still adjusting to Michael Thomas and Brandon Coleman being his primary receivers with Brandon Cooks in New England and Willie Snead still serving his suspension. If the Saints can avoid falling behind early like they did last week against the Patriots, they’ll be able to run the ball a little more and put Brees in more favorable positions to make plays.

Click on the link for more free NFL betting predictions from our experts on staff.

The biggest problem for New Orleans this season has been the team’s secondary. Both the Vikings and Patriots have shredded the Saints in the defensive backfield. However, New Orleans may have a more favorable matchup this week against the Panthers. Carolina is more focused on getting the ball to its running backs than challenging the opposing team’s secondary. This could give the Saints a little bit of a break, although they still have a lot to prove on that side of the ball. 

I don’t expect the Panthers to be limited to three field goals as they were last week, but they’re also not going to steamroll the New Orleans defense. The Saints should be able to remain within striking distance in the 2nd half, unlike the last two weeks. If Brees makes enough plays, maybe the Saints have a chance to steal a win on the road. If nothing else, New Orleans will stay close enough to beat the spread.