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January 7, 2018

There is one pick today.  

Take New Orleans Saints -6 spread (buy the half point) against Carolina Panthers for 3% of the bankroll.

These two NFC South foes have already faced each other twice this season. The Saints won both games by double-digits and is capable of doing so again on Sunday! Normally we don’t expect a team to beat the same opponent three times in a season by a touchdown or more but this is a special case. The Saints are simply the more dangerous team in this matchup. They have so many different weapons on offense that you can only take away one or two at most and eventually their unpredictability leads to big plays. 

We have the utmost respect for Luke Keuchly, Thomas Davis Sr. and the rest of this Panthers defense and actually believe they are an under-rated bunch. However, stopping the two-headed backfield monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara is next to an impossible task. That RB tandem is considered by many as the best ever and numbers actually support that! Ingram is a bruising back that relishes contact while Alvin Kamara is a great change-of-pace runner that is capable of playing a big role in the passing game. What makes this duo very tough to defend however is that Ingram is a much improved pass-catcher to seasons past and is therefore also capable of doing damage through receptions! You can’t simply assume that Ingram will rush and Kamara is there only for 3rd-down passing situations as Sean Payton will flip the script at times and keep you guessing. The fact that both backs are versatile and capable of doing different things keeps defenses honest.

Containing both of those running backs is nearly impossible as previously touched upon but even if the Panthers do manage that, they are still far frmo guaranteed to get the required result. That’s because Drew Brees can then hook up with the likes of Michael Thomas through the air and as a future hall-of-famer with ample playoff experience knows exactly when to put the team on his shoulders. He has the arm and in the intelligence to make Carolina pay if they end up paying too much attention on stopping the run game and screen passes. And it wouldn’t surprise us if former Carolina Panther, Ted Ginn Jr. burned his former team by catching one or two deep shots from Brees.

The Saints defense is much improved compared to the last few years and co-ordinator Dennis Allen deserves credit for that. It doesn’t hurt of course that they drafted Marshon Lattimore, a stud cornerback that is a Rookie of the Year candidate! Cam Newton has not been sharp with his passes for much of the season and while he and the team have done enough to win games when needed, he’s been off the mark for at least half of the games. He’s relied on his legs to get first downs and while he will always be a dual-threat quarterback, the fact that he’s playing a divisional opponent doesn’t help him here. That’s because the Saints have seen him many times over the years and are less likely to be surprised by schemes than a less familiar foe would be. They’ve seen what Newton is capable of (the good and bad version) twice already this season and will have a game plan for his read-options. The likes of Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffery and veteran TE Greg Olsen will have to play a nearly flawless game to give this Panthers squad enough punch to hang with the Saints and we just don’t see all three of them doing their part. One might pose a lot of threat but the other two could be contained. Last week Olsen and Newton were not at all on the same page as the tight-end was targeted 10 times but caught only one pass! The body language told a story as both were quite frustrated with each other. All in all this Carolina defense is legit but they are going up against the most dangerous offense in NFC in our opinion and on the other side of the ball, the Panthers just aren’t anything above an average team offensively. In what could be a higher scoring game than the rest of the Wild Card matchups, we just don’t see Carolina being able to keep up with the Saints on the scoreboard. This might be a closely contested game for large parts but eventually we expect the hosts to pull away in Big Easy and cover the spread in the process, winning by a TD or more.

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