#255 Carolina Panthersvs.#256 New Orleans Saints
Written by Ricky Dimon
NFL: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Carolina Panthers -3. Total: 47.
The Carolina Panthers will be hoping to halt a three-game losing streak when they visit the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon. Carolina is coming off consecutive setbacks against Minnesota, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay, and it is in the midst of a short week having fallen at home to the Buccaneers on Monday night. The Saints, on the other hand, are well-rested having enjoyed a bye in Week 5. They started 0-3 but found the win column by staging a fourth-quarter comeback to beat San Diego 35-34 two weeks ago.
The Panthers’ defense was not as atrocious as it was the previous week in Atlanta, but the unit still struggled when it mattered most in Monday night’s 17-14 home loss to the Buccaneers. After getting the ball back with 1:49 remaining in the game and the score tied 14-14, Tampa Bay marched on an 11-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a game-winning 38-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo as time expired. The Buccaneers could have put more than 17 points on the scoreboard, but they had a couple of promising drives stall out and Aguayo missed field goals of 33 and 46 yards. In the first quarter, Tampa Bay ran 20 plays to Carolina’s three and the visitors possessed the ball for more than 13 of the 15 minutes.
A big problem for the Panthers is that they are letting opponents play with short fields because the offense is turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Carolina has coughed it up 14 times this season; they finished the entire 2015 regular season with just 19 turnovers.
Just about every head coach in football says his team’s bye week comes at a good time. After all, there is never a bad time for a bye week. And while it is also nothing more than coach speak, it may be true for the Saints. Left tackle Terron Armstead (knee), middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (quadriceps), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (quadriceps), tight end Josh Hill (ankle), and left guard Senio Kelemete (hamstring) all missed Week 4 because of injuries. All five are considered week to week and the recent rest should help them return for Sunday’s NFC South showdown against Carolina.
“We have a chance to get a number of guys back that have been out,” head coach Sean Payton noted. “Obviously that number has been high for us–unusually high this early part of the season. It falls at a good time for a number of players.”
The Carolina Panthers are:
The New Orleans Saints are:
Prior to its setback against Tampa Bay, Carolina gave up more than 500 yards of total offense (300 to Julio Jones) in a 48-33 loss to the Falcons. If there was some good news for the Panthers during Monday’s struggle with the Buccaneers, it was that tight end Greg Olsen recorded a career-high 181 receiving yards receiving on nine catches and running back Cameron Artis-Payne scored a pair of touchdowns. As for the Saints, quarterback Drew Brees should have Armstead back on the field and providing protection up front. Brees has thrown for 1,269 yards through four outings to go along with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The over is 15-7 in the Panthers’ last 22 overall and 14-5 in their last 19 on the road. It is also 5-2 in the Saints’ last seven overall and 5-0 in their last five at home. Additionally, the over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings between the two teams and 4-1 in Carolina’s last five trips to New Orleans. Look for this one to go over the total.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.