Date/Time: December 8th, 8:30 PM ET
Spread: New Orleans -3.5
Week 14 of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, December 8th between the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.
We’re rolling at this point with consecutive wins on our NFL picks of the week, and we are going to right back to the well with the Panthers for the second consecutive week as they head to the Bayou in what amounts to be the best game of Week 14.
We learned a lot last week about the Saints. Sure, going up to Seattle is tough regardless of what the situation is, but it was made a lot more difficult by the fact that that was a Monday Night Football game and one in which the Seahawks felt like they had a whole heck of a lot to prove. They came in without their top two corners and held QB Drew Brees down to just 147 passing yards and a TD. The way that they figured out how to slow down Brees was to really come after him, and though Seattle only managed one sack for the whole game, Brees only averaged 3.9 yards per pass attempt. It was the first time in over two seasons in which Brees didn’t throw for 200 yards in a game, and it makes us really wonder what he is going to have in the tank in this one.
When we look at these Panthers, we see a team that looks a heck of a lot like Seattle. Young, mobile, athletic quarter. Likes to run the ball. Plays strong defense. Generates a pass rush without bringing more than four guys quite often.
You see what that equation generated on Monday Night Football, and it generated that equation without DB Brandon Browner or DB Walter Thurmond in the lineup, something which is normally a disaster going against a great passing attack.
Now, it’s true that Brees is destined to have a better game against these Panthers than he had against Seattle, and we wouldn’t be so naïve to think that that wouldn’t be the case. However, there is a real question as to whether these Saints are really any good whatsoever. 9-3 is great. 6-0 at home is great. But now go back and look at it. They beat the Atlanta Falcons twice, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills, the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bears, and the San Francisco 49ers. There probably isn’t a legitimate Super Bowl contender in that bunch. Sure, the team should have beaten the New England Patriots back in October, but that was nearly two months ago, and the team has looked significantly worse since that point.
Carolina meanwhile, just keeps rolling right along. It has eight wins in a row, and it, unlike New Orleans, has proven that it can win in some big time spots. The win against San Francisco came out on the West Coast. The Panthers also have a win against the Patriots to their credit, albeit after a controversial ending. And it goes without saying that Carolina fared a lot better against Seattle than New Orleans did, as the Panthers had the Seahawks dead to rights in Week 1 here at home.
The bottom line is that we don’t know where the points are coming from for New Orleans. The team has only scored 24 points combined in its last two games, and now it has to go up against perhaps the best defense in the NFL. The Panthers have held three of their last five foes to 10 points or fewer and six of their last eight to 15 points or fewer. None have scored more than 20. If the Saints aren’t going to get to 20 in this game, we have a real concern as to whether they should legitimately be laying points in this game or not.
Carolina is 13-3 in its last 16 games dating back to last season, and part of what really got this club going was a 44-38 victory against these Saints, a game in which it ran for 273 yards. That game came right here in the Bayou, and it was a part of a season sweep for the Panthers over New Orleans. Yes, Brees threw for 396 yards and four TDs in that game at the Superdome. However, the rushing attack produced just 63 yards, and the defense had no answers for RB DeAngelo Williams or QB Cam Newton.
Now add in these facts… Carolina is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 visits to New Orleans, and it is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games in this series overall. The Panthers have covered six straight games in conference and five straight games in division. Yes, the Saints have covered four straight games off of an SU defeat, but those games came against significantly lesser foes than this for the most part. New Orleans is coming off of a short week having played on Monday, and there is no way it got back home to start preparing for this one until at least Tuesday night in all likelihood. Meanwhile, this is “Game of the Year” type of stuff for the Panthers, who know that winning this one puts home field advantage and a first round bye in the playoffs in their hands once and for all. We believe this game is ending in an upset, and even if it doesn’t, we have those 3.5-points on our side, points which are crucial knowing what a premium they are at in Carolina games.
Week 14 NFL Pick of the Week: Carolina Panthers +3.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.