New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+6.5)
Mon. 12/17, 8:15 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Saints-Panthers:
1. New Orleans makes its final road trip of the regular season with a visit to Carolina on Monday night. The Saints have benefited from an easy schedule, racking up twice as many victories versus last-place teams (four) as they have against teams that currently hold a winning record—the Saints beat the 7-6 Ravens by a point on Oct. 21 and the 11-2 Rams by 10 two weeks later. The Panthers, meanwhile, enter Monday having lost five straight games, with four of those defeats having come away from home. They’ve been a different team in Charlotte, having lost only once at home all season (30-27 on Nov. 25 to a Seattle team in the midst of its ongoing six-game win streak). Carolina is averaging 30.8 points per game and 381.5 total yards per game at Bank of America Stadium this season.
2. Carolina is 8-4 against the spread and 7-5 straight up as an underdog since the start of last season. This is only the ninth time since the start of 2014 that Carolina has received points at home, with the team having gone 6-2 over its prior eight games as a home underdog. The Panthers are 4-1 both straight up and against the spread as a home underdog since the start of 2015, with the four victories having been by an average margin of more than eight points per game. The Panthers have also enjoyed success at home versus the Saints recently, winning four of the past six meetings in Charlotte, which makes sense when considering that Cam Newton is 39-21 (.650) as a starter at home in his career, compared to just 29-32-1 (.475) on the road. This season, Newton has totaled 14 touchdowns (10 passing, four rushing) with only three interceptions in six home games, while throwing nine picks on the road. Newton has typically played well in this series too, evidenced by 23 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions in 15 meetings, including playoffs. Over the past eight meetings, those numbers are even better, with Newton tossing 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
3. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has consistently gotten his team to bounce back after road losses, having led Carolina to a 22-6 ATS record during his eight-year tenure when coming off a road loss. Rivera’s Panthers are 16-10 against the spread when facing a team that’s outscoring opponents by an average margin of at least six points per game, and they’re 29-20 against the spread when facing a team with an offense that averages at least 27 points per game. The Saints, meanwhile, are 18-25 against the spread under head coach Sean Payton when facing a team with a losing record over the second half of a season.
Pick: Carolina +6.5
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)