Will the Panthers cover the spread when they take on the Saints Sunday?
The Odds: Panthers vs. Saints, 4:40 p.m. ET, Sunday
According to oddsmakers, the Saints are 6.5-point home favorites to beat the Panthers. Carolina opened as a 5.5-point underdog before the line dropped. As for the total, the number hit the board at 48.5 but was bet down to 47.5.
Carolina enters play with a 11-5 record overall and a 5-3 mark on the road. For New Orleans, the Saints were also 11-5 but were 7-1 at home. From a betting standpoint, the Panthers finished 9-7 against the spread (5-3 ATS on the road) and so did the Saints (9-7 ATS overall; 5-3 ATS at home).
Carolina Panthers Injury Report
Matt Kahlil (illness), Trai Turner (concussion), Devin Funchess (shoulder), Kurt Coleman (ankle) and Jonathan Stewart (groin) are all probable. Thus, the Panthers enter play relatively healthy today.
New Orleans Saints Injury Report
The Saints are more banged-up than the Panthers. Kenny Vaccaro (wrist) is out for the year. Zach Strief (knee) is also done for the season, as are David Parry (ankle), Coby Fleener (concussion), John Hughes (elbow) and Alex Okafor (Achilles). That said, Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and Terron Armstead (thigh) are probable.
The Panthers need to accomplish t. One, they need to have an answer for Alvin Kamara. Since Week 6, he’s averaged 7.98 yards per offensive touch. That’s insane. But when he suffered a concussion in the first quarter of an early December game against Atlanta, New Orleans was a different offense. Drew Brees turned into a dink-and-dunk artist in that game and Mark Ingram was slowed. Carolina has to contain Kamara or else the Saints will cover.
Carolina also has to establish the role, specifically its read-option attack. Cam Newton can’t beat opponents consistently from the pocket. He doesn’t have any outside weapons and he’s not accurate enough to win consistently in the pocket. But if that Panthers’ outside zone attack gets going, Carolina can keep Kamara and company off the field.
The underdog is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven meetings between these two teams. The road squad is 23-10 at the betting window in the last 33 meetings.
NFL Wild Card Playoff Prediction: Carolina Panthers +6.5