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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Panthers vs. Saints Prediction

Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 1:00pm EST
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

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In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 9:29am EST

Introduction

It’s a battle of NFC South teams in the Big Easy as week 12 of the NFL schedule is upon us. The Carolina Panthers are on the road as they travel to face the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon. Carolina comes in off a 29-3 whipping at home by Atlanta in their previous game last Sunday. New Orleans took care of Tampa Bay 34-17 on the road in their previous contest last Sunday. The Panthers lead the all-time regular season series 25-23 but the Saints have won four of the last five meetings. Last season, the teams split two matchups with New Orleans winning 12-9 on the road on December 17, 2018 and Carolina taking a 33-14 road win on December 30, 2018.

Carolina Panthers Review

Carolina started the season slowly, going 0-2 out of the gate as they were edged at home by the Rams (30-27) and by the Buccaneers (20-14) on a Thursday night. The Panthers then reeled off four straight victories after Kyle Allen was inserted into the starting lineup under center in place of an ailing Cam Newton. Carolina dispatched Arizona (38-20) and Houston (16-10) on the road before following up with a home win (34-27) over Jacksonville) and a road victory (37-26) over Tampa Bay for their first division victory of the year. The Panthers went on the road and were obliterated 51-13 by an undefeated 49ers team in week eight coming out of a bye. Carolina bounced back with a home win over Tennessee (30-20) before losing at Green Bay (24-16) amidst the snowflakes.

Last week against Atlanta, everything that could go wrong for the Panthers seemingly did. Carolina trailed 10-0 after the opening quarter and 20-0 at the half. The Panthers failed to score a touchdown: they allowed five sacks and threw four interceptions in the contest. In addition, Carolina gave up a punt return for a score as they were soundly beaten in all facets of the game. The Panthers were blanked for the first three quarters and their lone score came on a 31-yard Joey Slye field goal with 13 minutes to play. Carolina was narrowly outgained 349-347, allowed 20 first downs while picking up 17 and lost the time of possession by a 31:26 to 28:34 margin. The Panthers turned the ball over four times without forcing a takeaway in the contest.

New Orleans Saints Review

New Orleans started the season solidly, then lost their franchise quarterback before regrouping behind Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints edged the Texans at home to open the season (30-28) on a Wil Lutz 58-yard field goal as time expired before losing on the road to the Rams (27-9): in that game, Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury that required surgery and knocked him out for the next five games. New Orleans responded with Bridgewater under center, beating Seattle (33-27) on the road, Dallas (12-10) and Tampa Bay (31-24) at home, followed by wins over Jacksonville (13-6) and Chicago (36-25) on the road. Brees returned for their week eight contest against Arizona and led the Saints to a 31-9 home victory as the team went into the bye with six straight wins. That was followed with a 26-9 trouncing by the Falcons at home coming out of the bye, setting up their game with Tampa Bay.

The Saints bounced back from their thrashing at the hands of the Falcons by taking down the Buccaneers on the road last week. New Orleans jumped to a 13-0 lead after the opening quarter and extended to 20-0 in the second quarter: they didn’t see their lead drop below 10 the rest of the way. The Saints were edged 334-328 in total offense but dominated the time of possession by a 37:00 to 23:00 margin: both teams had 21 first downs in the game. New Orleans forced four turnovers in the contest, including a pick-six, while not committing any turnovers in the victory.

The Running Game

Carolina Panthers Running Offense
vs. New Orleans Saints Running Defense

Carolina Panthers Running Offense

Carolina has one of the most dynamic running backs in the league but they’ve had their ups and downs with the ground game this season. The Panthers have run for more than 100 yards in six of their 10 games this season, including three games with at least 150 yards on the ground. On the flip side, Carolina has been held under 60 yards twice this season so they have been shut down at times. The run game has been solid over the last month as the Panthers have at least 130 yards in three of their last four games, including a 156-yard performance against the Titans. In their last game against the Falcons, they ran the ball 15 times for 77 yards.

Christian McCaffrey has been the workhorse running back for the Panthers as he has run the ball 199 times for 1,059 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Reggie Bonnafon contributes 11 carries for 95 yards and a score while Curtis Samuel has six carries for 46 yards and a touchdown this season. The Panthers have seven run plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: McCaffrey has six of them while Bonnafon has the other one. Carolina has moved the chains via the ground game 48 times so far this season.

New Orleans Saints Run Defense

New Orleans started the season slowly against the run game as they gave up more than 100 yards in each of their first three games. Since then, the Saints have clamped down, holding their opponents to 94 yards or less in six of their seven contests. The only time that New Orleans gave up more than 100 yards in that stretch came in week 10 against Atlanta where they gave up 34 carries for 143 yards. That’s the only game in the last four contests where they have allowed more than 40 yards on the ground. Last week against the Buccaneers, New Orleans allowed eight carries for 36 yards.

Demario Davis leads the team defensively with 69 tackles (53 solo) on the season. Safety Vonn Bell (62 tackles, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, TD), along with A.J. Klein (51 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery), Marshon Lattimore (38 tackles) and Marcus Williams (38 tackles, forced fumble) are among the team’s leaders in stops this year. Cameron Jordan (33 tackles, fumble recovery) leads the team with 10 tackles for loss while Davis adds six. Malcom Brown (21 tackles) and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (21 tackles) each have four tackles for loss on the year. As a team, the Saints have 49 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries, including one fumble return for a score, on the year.

Stats

CAR

  • 25th in run play percentage (37.71 percent)
  • 19th in rushing attempts per game (24.7)
  • 10th in rushing yards per game (126)
  • 2nd in yards per carry (5.1)
  • Tied for 2nd in rushing TD (14)
  • 3rd in longest rush (84 yards)

NO

  • 1st in percentage of run plays against (34 percent)
  • 1st in run plays per game against (20.5)
  • 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game (85.3)
  • 13th in opposing yards per carry (4.2)
  • Tied for 10th in rushing TD allowed (seven)
  • 5th in longest rush allowed (32 yards)

Who has the Edge?

Carolina has been effective on the ground but it's going to be a challenge for the Panthers in this contest. We saw McCaffrey held in check by the Buccaneers last week as the team has struggled to stay in games. New Orleans has been stout against the run this season and they've faced some tough run teams. The Saints are at home and they'll feed off the crowd. With Allen struggling under center, it will make life tough for McCaffrey to find room on the ground. New Orleans will be aggressive against the run and make the Panthers beat them through the air.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Running Offense
vs. Carolina Panthers Running Defense

New Orleans Saints Running Offense

New Orleans had an effective 1-2 punch last season in the ground game with Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara. Ingram II left via free agency, signing with Baltimore in the offseason, and the Saints signed Latavius Murray to try and fill that role. New Orleans has had its ups and downs but they have run for more than 100 yards in seven of their 10 games on the year. The Saints have averaged at least four yards per carry in six games this season. New Orleans has run for more than 100 yards in three of their last four games, including 28 carries for 109 yards against Tampa Bay last week.

Alvin Kamara leads the Saints with 103 carries for 472 yards plus a score on the ground this season. Latavius Murray contributes 95 carries for 398 yards and four scores while Teddy Bridgewater (22 rushes, 37 yards) and Taysom Hill (14 carries, 94 yards) have seen limited attempts on the ground. As a team, the Saints have recorded six rushes that have covered at least 20 yards: Kamara and Murray each have two while Hill and Dwayne Washington (three carries, 38 yards) each have one. New Orleans has moved the chains 61 times via the ground this season.

Carolina Panthers Run Defense

Carolina has struggled to slow down the run game of opposing offenses this season. The Panthers have allowed eight of their 10 opponents to run for at least 100 yards against them this season. Seven times in their 10 games, the opposition has run for at least 4.8 yards per carry with six teams averaging better than five yards a pop this season. The Panthers have struggled in the last month as three of their four games have seen the opposition go over the century mark. That was highlighted by the 232 yards and five scores that the 49ers put up on them in week eight. Last week, the Panthers held the Falcons to just 54 yards on 26 carries.

Luke Kuechly leads the team with 90 tackles (49 solo) on the season. Shaq Thompson (78 tackles), Eric Reid (72 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries), James Bradberry (42 tackles) and Tre Boston (44 tackles) help round out the top five in terms of stops for the Panthers’ defense this season. Thompson leads the team with nine tackles for loss this season. Mario Addison (19 tackles, two forced fumbles) adds 8.5 tackles for loss while Gerald McCoy (27 tackles) contributes 7.5 on the season. As a team, the Panthers have 66 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and one scoop-six this season.

Stats

NO

  • 19th in run play percentage (39.28 percent)
  • 17th in rushing attempts per game (25.1)
  • 17th in rushing yards per game (107.5)
  • 16th in yards per carry (4.3)
  • Tied for 24th in rushing TD (five)
  • 25th in longest rush (31 yards)

CAR

  • 12th in percentage of run plays against (39.76 percent)
  • 17th in run plays per game against (26.4)
  • 27th in rushing yards allowed per game (128.4)
  • 29th in opposing yards per carry (4.9)
  • 32nd in rushing TD allowed (18)
  • 13th in longest rush allowed (48 yards)

Who has the Edge?

Getting Kamara back in the mix last week after he missed a couple of games was a boost for the Saints last week. It helps make things easier as the 1-2 punch with Murray can work much like it did with Ingram II last season. Carolina has been a sieve against the run this season and they've given up a league-high 18 scores on the ground. Look for a lot of work for both Kamara and Murray on the ground to test the Carolina front seven. Until the Panthers stop the run, you have to think that teams will batter them with it.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

The Passing Game

Carolina Panthers Passing Offense
vs. New Orleans Saints Passing Defense

Carolina Panthers Passing Offense

Carolina hasn’t had to lean on the pass as much as some other teams have had to this season, mainly due to their ability to do damage on the ground. The Panthers had just one 300-yard passing game in the first half of the season with that coming back in week two against Tampa Bay, when they threw for 333 yards. Since Cam Newton went out prior to week three, the passing game has been efficient but hardly overwhelming. The Panthers have gone over the 300-yard mark in each of their last two contests, including a 325-yard showing against the Falcons last week.

Kyle Allen is 175 of 284 passing for 1,923 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He has been sacked 28 times for 246 yards in losses this season. Cam Newton was 50 of 89 for 572 yards with no touchdowns and one interception while getting sacked six times for 43 yards in losses. DJ Moore leads the team with 62 receptions for 779 yards and a score on the year. McCaffrey contributes 59 receptions for 517 yards and three touchdowns on the year while Samuel (38 grabs, 465 yards, four TD) and Greg Olsen (40 catches, 486 yards, two TD) are solid secondary targets. Carolina has 27 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Samuel and Moore share the team lead with seven such plays while McCaffrey and Olsen each have five.

New Orleans Saints Passing Defense

New Orleans had their struggles in the early stages of the season defensively but has helped clamp down of late. The Saints have allowed more than 300 yards through the air just twice on the year: they allowed 406 yards to the Seahawks in week 2 and then 313 yards to Tampa Bay last week. New Orleans’ game against Tampa Bay snapped a six-game stretch where the Saints didn’t allow more than 251 yards through the air. In that six-game span, New Orleans gave up 205 yards or less three times in that stretch.

Jordan leads the team with 9.5 sacks on the season. Trey Hendrickson (nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble) and Marcus Davenport (23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble) each have three sacks on the year. Marcus Williams leads the team with 12 pass defenses on the year while Lattimore contributes 10 and Davis adds eight. Marcus Williams (TD) has four interceptions to lead the team on the year while Lattimore, Bell, Davis and P.J. Williams (26 tackles, sack, tackle for loss, four pass defenses) each have one. As a team, the Saints have 27 sacks, 48 pass defenses and eight interceptions, including a pick-six, this season.

Stats

CAR

  • 8th in pass play percentage (62.29 percent)
  • 28th in completion percentage (60.2)
  • 22nd in passing yards per game (220.6)
  • Tied for 29th in TD passes (10)
  • Tied for 20th in INT thrown (10)
  • 27th in net yards per pass attempt (5.9)
  • 28th in longest pass play (52 yards)
  • 28th in passer rating (77.8)

NO

  • 32nd in pass play percentage against (66 percent)
  • 12th in net passing yards per game allowed (233)
  • 4th in completion percentage allowed (60.7)
  • Tied for 12th in TD passes allowed (14)
  • Tied for 11th in INT (eight)
  • Tied for 12th in sacks (27)
  • 7th in passer rating allowed (84.4)
  • 6th in net yards per pass attempt (6.3)

Who has the Edge?

Carolina has struggled in the last couple of weeks as teams may have started to figure Allen out. He threw four picks against the Falcons last week and the offensive line surrendered five sacks. In the last four weeks, Allen has thrown nine interceptions and has taken 18 sacks. New Orleans has been solid of late and shut down Winston last week, intercepting him four times, including a pick-six. The Saints are going to make Allen beat them with the pass: look for Jordan to go after him in the pass rush.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Passing Offense
vs. Carolina Panthers Passing Defense

New Orleans Saints Passing Offense

New Orleans is still a pass-centric offense though this season has been a bit off as Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury that required surgery against the Rams in week two. He missed six weeks before returning and that forced changes in their offensive scheme. New Orleans has posted four 300-yard games this season, including twice in the three games since Brees returned to the mix. New Orleans comes in off a 228-yard showing against Tampa Bay last week in their victory.

Brees has completed 129 of 171 passes for 1,296 yards with eight touchdown and three interceptions on the year. He's been sacked seven times for a loss of 54 yards. Teddy Bridgewater has hit 132 of 195 passes for 1,370 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions while getting sacked 11 times. Michael Thomas leads the Saints with 94 receptions for 1,141 yards plus five scores. Kamara (51 catches, 373 yards, TD), Ted Ginn Jr. (22 grabs, 310 yards, two TD), Murray (27 catches, 165 yards, TD) and Jared Cook (23 grabs, 275 yards, three TD) are secondary options. The Saints have 28 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Thomas leads the team with 10 of those plays while Ginn Jr. has five. Cook and Josh Hill (17 receptions, 168 yards, TD) both have four on the season.

Carolina Panthers Passing Defense

Carolina was strong against the pass in the first quarter of the season but they’ve been hit harder in the last four games. The Panthers didn’t give up more than 208 yards through the air in their first four games this season. Carolina has been exposed a bit lately, giving up more than 300 yards through the air four times in their last six games, including a 400-yard game by Tampa Bay in a week six victory. On the plus side, the Panthers have been getting home with the pass rush: they have at least two sacks in nine of their 10 games this season, including three games where they have at least six sacks.

Addison leads the team with eight sacks on the year this season. Brian Burns (16 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble, fumble recovery, TD) adds 4.5 sacks while McCoy, Vernon Butler (16 tackles, three forced fumbles) and Dontari Poe (21 tackles, five tackles for loss) each have four. Bradberry leads the team with nine pass defenses while Kuechly and Donte Jackson (26 tackles, tackle for loss, forced fumble) both have seven. Ross Cockrell (36 tackles, half-tackle for loss) and Boston both have six. Bradberry and Jackson each have three interceptions to lead the team while Cockrell and Kuechly each have two. Javien Elliott (29 tackles, half-sack, tackle for loss, two pass defenses) and Boston both have one pick on the year. As a team, the Panthers have 39 sacks, 49 pass defenses and 12 interceptions on the year.

Stats

NO

  • 11th in pass play percentage (62.79 percent)
  • 2nd in completion percentage (71.5)
  • 9th in net passing yards per game (256.5)
  • Tied for 12th in TD passes (17)
  • Tied for 5th in INT thrown (five)
  • 16th in net yards per pass attempt (seven)
  • 32nd in longest pass play (45 yards)
  • Tied for 8th in passer rating (102.1)

CAR

  • 21st in pass play percentage faced (60.24 percent)
  • 13th in passing yards per game allowed (233.6)
  • 16th in completion percentage allowed (63.7)
  • Tied for 8th in TD passes allowed (11)
  • 3rd in INT (12)
  • Tied for 1st in sacks (39)
  • 5th in passer rating allowed (81)
  • 10th in net yards per pass attempt (6.5)

Who has the Edge?

New Orleans has been effective moving the ball through the air, whether it's been Brees or Bridgewater under center. Thomas leads the league in receiving yards and is poised to go over the century mark in catches this week. Carolina has been aggressive as they are tied for the league lead in sacks. The Panthers have picked off more passes than they've allowed touchdown passes and will make life tougher for the Saints to move the ball through the air. Give Carolina a slight advantage in this category as the secondary has done its job this season.

Advantage: Carolina Panthers

Intangibles

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are 15th in the league in scoring offense this season as they put up an average of 22.8 points per game on the year. Carolina is 18th in total offense as they average 346.6 yards per contest while ranking 21st in yards per play as they pick up 5.3 yards per snap. The Panthers are 25th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 25.7 points per contest. Carolina is 19th in the league in total defense by allowing 362 yards per game and 13th in yards per play by allowing 5.5 yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Panthers are tied for 15th as they are even this season.

The Panthers are in the middle of the pack, ranked 18th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 56.67 percent of their chances. Defensively, Carolina has been miserable as they are 32nd in red zone defense by allowing 65.71 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Panthers are in the bottom tier of the pack in third down conversions, ranking 28th by converting 30.71 percent of their third down situations this season. Carolina’s defense is 22nd in those situations as opposing teams have converted on 41.41 percent of their third downs. The Panthers are 24th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 48 percent of the time this season.

Joey Slye has hit 21 of 23 extra points and 17 of 23 field goal attempts as a rookie this season with a long of 55 yards. Michael Palardy has averaged 46 yards per kick on 39 punts this season with a 39.8-yard net average. He has dropped 17 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with only two touchbacks: his long boot on the year is 58 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has averaged 21.8 yards on eight kickoff returns with a long of 31 while he averages 8.2 yards on 10 punt returns with a long of 39 this season. DeAndrew White averages 21.8 yards on his eight kick returns with a long of 36 on the year.

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans is 13th in the league in scoring offense as they put up 23.8 points per game on the season. The Saints are 14th in the league in total offense with 364 yards per game and stand 13th in yards per play with 5.7 yards per snap. New Orleans is 12th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 19.9 points per contest. The Saints are 6th in total defense as they allow 318.3 yards per game and stand 10th as they give up 5.3 yards per play. New Orleans is 4th in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are +8 on the season.

The Saints are a mediocre 22nd in red-zone success as they have cashed in 51.35 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. New Orleans is 15th in red-zone defense as they hold opposing teams to a 55.17 percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns go. New Orleans is 9th in the league in third-down conversions as they have converted 44.19 percent of their situations this season. The Saints are very good in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 33.59 percent of their third downs, which is 5th in the league. New Orleans is 3rd in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 54.94 percent of the time.

Wil Lutz has hit 23 of 24 extra point attempts and 21 of 25 field goal tries with a long of 58 this season. Thomas Morestead has boomed 39 punts for a 45.4-yard average and a solid 42.2-yard net average on the season. He's dropped 23 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line with no touchbacks. Deonte Harris has averaged 23.8 yards on 13 kick returns with a long of 46 and 9.7 yards on 24 punt returns, including a 53-yard score against the Seahawks in week 3. J.T. Gray blocked a punt against the Bears for a safety back in week seven.

Who has the Edge?

Both coaches have won Super Bowls though Sean Payton has a longer leash than Riverboat Ron at this point. Panthers owner David Tepper has said that he won't stand for long-term mediocrity. That could be the warning shot about an impending coaching change. On the numbers, the Saints have been excellent in the giveaway/takeaway department and they have the advantage in special teams. New Orleans has been effective in the return game and they get off the field pretty effectively on third-down. The Panthers have to find a way to chew up the clock and put points on the board: that could be tough against a New Orleans team that is solid on both sides of the ball and is effective at holding onto the ball.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

Final Outlook

Carolina has struggled of late and they are facing what amounts to a practical elimination game in the division race. New Orleans owns a three-game lead in the NFC South and a win here would give them a four-game edge with five to play plus a leg up in the tiebreaker. The Saints are clicking with seven wins in their last eight games and their offense has a ton of playmakers to work with on that side of the ball. Carolina has to rely heavily on McCaffrey and you know that defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is going to do everything he can to keep the Panthers from feeding their star back.

According to Covers.com, the Saints are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. NFC opponents and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win. Carolina is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in November. Look for New Orleans to take care of business at home to put themselves on the brink of clinching the NFC South crown.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints -10

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

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New Orleans has been an effective offensive team this season. The Saints have put up at least 30 points in six of their 10 games this season. On the flip side, if the Saints don't hit the 30 point mark, there's no in-between: they've been held to 13 points or less in their other four games. Carolina is pretty similar: they have at least 30 points in four games this season and 27 in a fifth contest. The Panthers have put up 16 points or less in their other five games. It will be interesting to see how things pan out here: will the teams follow through on their trends?

The over is 4-0 in the Panthers' last 4 games in Week 12, 4-1 in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and 22-6 in their last 28 on fieldturf. These teams have had some high-scoring games: they have gone over the number in each of the last six meetings in New Orleans and eight of the last 10 meetings overall. Look for the Saints to have a big offensive day here to push things over the mark.

Prediction: Over 47
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.