Saints To Take Control Of NFC South With Panthers Win

The NFC South could well be decided on Sunday as the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers face off at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints have been one of the surprise packages of the season. Sean Payton’s men had been middling outfit for three-straight years. However, they’ve found their feet this term and have recorded eight wins to move into contention to win their division for the first time since 2011.

New Orleans reeled off eight wins on the bounce after starting the campaign 0-2. Their run was brought to an end last week in a narrow defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams on the road. The Saints had their opportunities in the contest, but were not clinical enough in the fourth quarter.

The club are still in pole position in the NFC South, holding the tie-breaker ahead of the Panthers, although that could change hands on Sunday. Carolina have started to round into form, reeling off four wins on the bounce. Ron Rivera’s men were far from their best against the New York Jets last time out. However, they managed to close out a tight win to keep the pressure on the Saints.

They’ve had issues with consistency on both sides of the ball, with their defense struggling last week. Cam Newton and company have also had their problems on offense this term, but between the two groups they’ve managed to put enough points on the board to deliver eight victories.

It should be a close contest between two impressive outfits. We’ll now break down the match using the latest betting odds.

New Orleans Saints

Kamara can shine again

The Saints’ eight-match winning run was brought to an end by the Los Angeles Rams. Although, Alvin Kamara enjoyed another strong outing to enhance his claim for the Rookie of the Year award, the Saints were unable put enough points on the board. Drew Brees and company were restricted to 20 points as a late penalty halted a comeback despite Kamara notching a late score to close within six.

New Orleans’ defense had been solid for four weeks, but they have started to show signs of weakness. Kirk Cousins was able to expose them to put 31 points on the board. Brees and the offense bailed out their team-mates with a comeback victory on home soil. The Rams’ offense was able to move seamlessly down the field against Payton’s men as Jared Goff racked up the yards.

Cameron Jordan notched two sacks, although the absence of Marshon Lattimore loomed large. The rookie cornerback has been outstanding this season and his injury issue could be a factor in deciding the outcome of the division. Alex Okafor’s season-ending injury will lessen the impact of the pass-rush. Jordan is a formidable player, but he needs support on the defensive line to keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The Saints have eased the pressure on Brees this season. For too long the club have relied on his arm alone to win matches. Mark Ingram and Kamara have come to the fore in the running game. Ingram has been the workhorse, although he was held in check last week. Plan B did not come to fruition for Payton’s men. Their receiving corps is not the deepest, leaving the team in the hand of Kamara and Michael Thomas should they lose control of their contests.

Carolina Panthers

Kuechly needs a special outing

The Panthers were heading into a crossroads in their season at 4-3 following a shocking defeat to the Chicago Bears. However, Carolina have responded with four wins on the bounce as their defense rose to the occasion to see off the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton put on a clinic to see off the Miami Dolphins before edging past the Jets, although Rivera’s men were far from their best. Newton has been inconsistent throughout his career and this season has been a microcosm of his time in the NFL.

The 28-year-old had a poor outing against the Jets, completing just 39.3% of his passes, although Carolina managed to find scores from other areas of the field to put 35 points on the board. Christian McCaffrey has found life in the club’s offense in recent weeks. The rookie has not enjoyed the same impact as Kamara at the Saints, the 21-year-old has provided a threat and could be vital down the stretch run.

Carolina’s defense has carried the fortunes of the team this season and will have to be at their best on Sunday. Kawann Short has been a force in the middle of the line, notching four sacks. His presence will be key to stopping Ingram and Kamara. Mario Addison and Julius Peppers have been the key men off the edge. The two veterans will have to be even more influential due to the suspension of Charles Johnson.

Luke Kuechly has been a force for the Panthers, although his statistics have not been outstanding. He notched one of the touchdowns last week against the Jets to secure the narrow win. The linebacker has to remain healthy and at the top of his game for the club to continue their surge for the post-season.

Betting Options

The Panthers’ defense has the ability to stop New Orleans’ potent running game, which could be the decisive factor in the contest. However, in their meeting earlier in the campaign, it was the arm of Brees that exposed Carolina on home soil. Expect the veteran quarterback to boast a similar performance, using the matchups of Thomas, Ted Ginn and Brandon Coleman to expose Rivera’s men.

The Saints’ defense is good enough to keep Carolina in check, especially if Newton and company play as they did against the Jets. Back Payton’s side at odds of -222 with BetOnline to get the victory on home soil to edge closer to their first NFC South crown since 2011. The spread is intriguing as New Orleans hammered the Panthers on the road and might be able to find the same success. Therefore take the Saints to cover the -5.5 at -105   with 888Sport.

Newton was not on his game last week and the home side should have solid plan for McCaffrey in the run game. Take the Panthers to score under 21 points with Betway at -105 . Saints’ wideout Ginn scored a touchdown against his former team in the first meeting – back him to do it again on home soil at odds of +163   with Bet365.

Tips Summary

New Orleans Saints To Beat Carolina Panthers
Sunday 3rd December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -222

New Orleans Saints To Cover -5.5 Spread
Sunday 3rd December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -105

Carolina Panthers To Score Under 21 Points
Sunday 3rd December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -105

Ted Ginn Jr To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 3rd December 2017 16:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +163

Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers
Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints
NFL

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