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The Carolina Panthers are trying to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC West division race. The Panthers enter this contest 5-5 on the season and are currently on a two-game losing streak. In their latest game, they were dominated by the Atlanta Falcons 29-3.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints hope Sunday gives them an insurmountable lead in the division. The Saints currently have an 8-2 record with their latest victory coming over the Tampa Bay Buccanneers 34-17.
This series has been one of the most competitive with Carolina holding the 25-24 edge. Sunday's game, which marks the 50th time these two teams played, takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. The game airs on CBS.
The Panthers have to develop their offenseCarolina's success on Sunday could come down to the play of quarterback Kyle Allen, who's coming off a four-interception performance to the Falcons. To be fair to Allen, he hasn't had the best protection from his offensive line, as he's been sacked 18 times in the last four games.
With this in mind, protecting Allen could help him have time to make the right reads. On Sunday, he faces a Saints defense who's among the best teams in the NFL in pressuring the quarterback. Look for New Orleans to use this to their advantage to flush Allen out of the pocket and knock him off his rhythm.
If the Panthers can weather this storm to give Allen time to throw, there are plays to be made. New Orleans' secondary has been banged up and this contributes to them allowing 250 yards through the air per game.
Defensively, the Panthers will have a tough time keeping Saints quarterback Drew Brees from making plays. Carolina is among the worst teams in the NFL in generating sacks.
Saints hope to rattle AllenDefensively, there's no secret to what New Orleans wants to do: pressure Allen. And they should have success. The strength of their front seven should flush Allen from the pocket and contribute to some turnovers.
To combat an aggressive approach, the Saints' defense must keep their eyes on Christian McCaffrey at all times. McCaffrey hasn't had the most success against NFC South opponents, who contained him to 2.7 yards per rush. However, his ability to catch passes and make plays in space means he's someone the Saints' defense must account for at all times.
Offensively, the Saints should have no problems making plays through the air.
As a byproduct of that success, one player who should benefit is running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara averages 4.6 yards per rush and should have some success against a Carolina defense that allows opponents to gain 4.7 yards per rush.
This balanced attack helps New Orleans control the tempo of the game.
Trends found on Covers.com New Orleans is:
- 7-1 ATS in last 8
- 1-5 ATS in last 6 November games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Saints are the better team heading into this one and they'll show that throughout Sunday's game. Look for the Saints to apply pressure on Allen early and often leading to their opportunistic secondary coming up with several big turnovers. Offensively, New Orleans' balanced approach results in multiple scoring drives that chew clock and help them hold on to the lead throughout. The Saints win this one by two possessions.
Prediction: New Orleans -9.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The Saints have too many weapons on offense and will use this to take advantage of a Panthers' defense that's struggled to get after the quarterback. Brees has another huge performance while the Saints' defense applies enough pressure to Allen to force a turnover or two. Armed with short fields, the Saints convert these turnovers into quick scores. New Orleans wins this one 34-17.
Prediction: Over 48.5