The 11-5 Carolina Panthers will travel to New Orleans to take on the 11-5 Saints this Sunday in the NFC Wild Card game. Both of these teams had clinched the playoffs prior to last weeks, which were both losses. The Panthers were defeated 22-10 on the road by the Atlanta Falcons while the Saints lost 31-24 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers would have won the NFC South outright had they been able to beat the Falcons. These two teams have met twice already this season with the Saints winning both of those games.
Drew Brees has had a great bounce back season leading the Saints back to the playoffs after going just 7-9 last year. He threw for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns while having just 8 interceptions. The team had a very successful year running the ball thanks to Mark Ingram and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara. The two have combined for over 1,900 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. For the year, the Saints offense has ranked 4th in the league with 28 points per game and second in the league with 391 yards per game. Defensively, they were 17th in league allowing their opponents to gain 336.5 yards and are 10th with their opponents scoring 20 points per game.
Carolina’s offense disappeared last week with a chance to win the division. Cam Newton played poorly finishing with a quarterback rating of just 17. He completed 14 of 34 passes for 180 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. They struggled running the ball also gaining just 87 yards on 24 carries, which is an average of 3.6 yards per run. Since week 10, they have led the league with an average of 160 rushing yards per game. The Panthers finished the season ranked 12th in the league with 22.7 points per game and were 19th with 323 yards per game. Defensively, they did not force a turnover and sacked Matt Ryan once. Six different Falcons receivers had receptions that gained at least 12 yards. They finished the season ranked 11th by allowing their opponents to score 20.4 points and ranked 7th allowing 317 yards per game.
The Saints will have home field advantage in this game and are favored by a touchdown. They have gone 8-8 against the spread this season including 4-4 on the road. All of their key players are healthy and the Mercedez-Benz Superdome will be rocking. The Panthers have gone 9-7 against the spread this season including 5-3 on the road. They are hoping to have Guard Trai Turner back who has missed the last 3 games due to concussion symptoms. Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen is healthy and will play for the Panthers as he missed both of their losses against the Saints this year. Four of the Panthers 5 losses have been by at least 10 points while The Saints have won by double digits in 10 of their 11 victories.
If you're new to sportsbetting, check out Football betting lines explained, to get a comprehensive guide how to bet on NFL games.