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NFL Free Pick: Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints

Prediction Machine NFL Free Pick: Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints

Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints (NO -7.5, O/U 51)

Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers will attempt to leapfrog the Saints in the NFC South standings with a win in the Superdome on Sunday.

Sean Payton’s squad will host the Panthers fresh off their bye week in pursuit of their third straight victory. The Saints are hoping Michael Thomas will return to the field for the first time since Week 1, but he popped up on the injury report with a hamstring injury that occurred in practice, so it’ll remain a situation to monitor heading into Sunday.

Teddy Bridgewater is fully healthy and will return to New Orleans to face his former team, hoping to push his new squad above the .500 mark once again. Bridgewater and the Panthers enter as relatively large underdogs, however, with New Orleans currently sitting as a 7.5-point favorite.

Our model is predicting New Orleans will win this matchup outright but likes Carolina to cover the spread with a projected score of 25.0-23.4 in favor of the Saints. Therefore, we have a rather sizable edge on the Panthers in this one. Our model suggests a $106 wager on CAROLINA +7.5 for an average $100 bettor.

Prediction Machine’s NFL model was 129-75 ATS (63.2%) for +26.85 units and 117-98 (54.4%) on O/Us for +21.04 units in the 2019-20 season, producing a total profit of $4,789. Head over to predictionmachine.com/pricing and sign up to receive every NFL prediction.

Why will Carolina cover the spread?

  • The Panthers have been more efficient passing the ball and limiting opposing teams’ passing attacks compared to the Saints. Carolina averages an eighth-best 7.8 yards per pass attempt on offense, while New Orleans is right around the league average at 7.4 yards per pass attempt. The gap is much larger on the defensive side of the ball, where Carolina is second-best in the NFL with 5.9 yards allowed per pass attempt. The Saints are again right around league average at 6.9 yards allowed per attempt, so we’re expecting Bridgewater and the Panthers to have success through the air on Sunday.
  • Carolina struggles to stop the run on defense, having surrendered 4.9 yards per carry through six games (27th). Despite having a talented backfield with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, the Saints have struggled with efficiency on the ground, managing 4.1 yards per carry (21st). Outside of their Week 1 matchup with Tampa Bay, New Orleans has faced soft rush defenses on the season and still hasn’t produced. The Saints have faced Detroit (26th in YPC allowed), Las Vegas (24th), Green Bay (23rd) and the Chargers (19th) and are still toward the bottom of the league in efficiency.
  • Joe Brady’s offense has reached the red zone 3.8 times per game, which is tied for eighth-most in the NFL. They’ve struggled to turn those trips into touchdowns, ranking 28th with just a 47.8 percent TD rate. The league average is right around 65 percent of red-zone trips resulting in touchdowns, so the Panthers should see some progress in that category Sunday, especially considering New Orleans has been one of the worst red-zone defenses in the NFL this season. The Saints have allowed opponents to score a touchdown on 85 percent of their red-zone trips, so expect the Panthers to capitalize more often this weekend compared to previous weeks.

How to bet the total in Panthers vs Saints:

Prediction Machine’s NFL model projects a final score of 25.0-23.4 in favor of the Saints. With 48.4 projected points and an OVER/UNDER of 51, we have a solid edge on the UNDER in this one. Our model suggests a $78 wager on UNDER 51 for $100 average bettors.

Need-to-know stats for Panthers vs Saints:

  • 7 catches, 80.8 yards, 0.54 TDs (Anderson), 7 catches, 82.0 yards, 0.41 TDs (Moore) - The Panthers have a two-headed monster at wide receiver in Robby Anderson and DJ Moore. Anderson has been a revelation for the Panthers after leaving the death sentence that is Adam Gase’s offense to rejoin his college coach (Rhule) in Carolina. Moore remains one of the league’s top young wideouts but has been outproduced by Anderson on the season despite seeing only three fewer targets. We’re projecting both wideouts to see nearly equal volume and production against a leaky Saints secondary, with a slight edge in yardage to Moore and a higher touchdown projection for Anderson. While one may end up clearly ahead of the other by game’s end, both are confident fantasy plays this weekend.
  • 14 rushes, 75.0 yards, 0.6 TDs, 6 catches, 52.5 yards, 0.23 TDs - Speaking of fantasy production, Alvin Kamara should continue his monstrous production as the overall fantasy RB1 heading into Week 7. We’re projecting 20 touches and over 125 scrimmage yards for Kamara, along with a great chance to reach the end zone on the ground. The Panthers have already surrendered nine total touchdowns to opposing RBs this season, so it’s a good bet that Kamara will reach pay dirt for the eighth time on Sunday. Even with Michael Thomas projected as active in our model, we’re expecting Kamara to lead the offense in touches, yards and touchdowns.