Saints look to stay sharp against the Panthers

Kristian Garic
November 24, 2019 - 4:29 am
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The Carolina Panthers come to town Sunday for a noon showdown against the home standing New Orleans Saints.  Carolina is 5-5 and riding a three game losing streak.  The Saints are 8-2 after a bounce back win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.  This is traditionally a hard fought nip and tuck kind of game, but oddsmakers and Vegas don't see it that way this time around. 

The Saints are favored by 9.5 points over the Panthers.  A big reason why is the play of Carolina's quarterback Kyle Allen.  Lately he's turned the ball over at an alarming rate.  

Perhaps the biggest reason the Saints are such heavy favorites is the Panthers inability to get off the field defensively on third down coupled with their ineffectiveness at sustaining drives and converting on third down on offense.  The Panthers defense allow a 41% conversion rate to opposing offenses. And, Carolina converts only 30% of their third downs on offense.   That's not going to get it done long term in the NFL.  

Carolina's defense is still respectable in some ways; they lead the league in sacks (39).  However, the Panthers also surrendered 34 sacks to opposing defenses.   The Panthers yield 25 points per game to their opponents.   

I could make the case the Saints defense is approaching elite status, allowing just 19 points per game (12th in the NFL).  The Fleur De Lis defense is especially stout in total yards (318.3).  That’s good for 6th best in the NFL.  I think this is the most complete team in the Sean Payton era.  Offensively they Black & Gold are not lighting up the scoreboard at an alarming rate, but they are still more than respectable in total yards and rushing yards.  

The Panthers have more questions  than answers these days.  The Carolina offense completely revolves around running back Christian McCafferey.  He accounts for 45% of the Panthers offensive production.  That's staggering!  McCafferey could end up with a total of 30 touches and 120 total yards.  That looks impressive, but when you break it down by yards per touch, it isn't all that great.   That production would amount to 4 yards per touch, which the Saints could certainly live with.   

Panthers coach Ron Rivera is on the hot seat; that could stir up the team, rev up production and be dangerous for the Saints, but I don't think so.  

Prediction:  This is going to be fun!  The Saints smash the Panthers 31-18 covering the large spread and improving their record to 9 and 2.  That pretty much clinches the NFC South.  

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