Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#289 New Orleans Saints vs.
#290 Carolina Panthers
Monday, September 18, 2023 at 7:15pm EDT
Bank Of America Stadium, Charlotte
Written by Mark Ruelle

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The New Orleans Saints travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Monday night as part of an NFL Monday Night Doubleheader. The Saints come in at 1-0 after defeating the Titans 16-15 in their opener last Sunday. The Panthers make their home debut at 0-1 after losing in Atlanta last Sunday to open the season. The opening kickoff is set for 7:15 PM EST on Monday night.

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Saints Alive

The New Orleans Saints kicked off the 2023 season with a tight win over the Titans at home, 16-15. Derek Carr, who signed a four-year, $150 million deal in March after being released by the Raiders, picked up a win in his first appearance in a Saints' uniform. Carr was 23-of-33 for 305 yards with a touchdown and one interception.

"You fall in love with one place, you give them all you have for almost a decade and now all of a sudden, it's gone," Carr told ESPN. "... Do you want to go do it somewhere else? You know, your heart is so much there. You're torn, and there's emotions."

The Saints trailed 9-6 at the half but scored the only ten points in the third quarter and held on for the one-point win. Carr led the Saints to 15 first downs and 351 yards of total offense in the win. On third-down conversions, the Saints were a solid 7-for-16 with Carr engineering the offense. Second-year receiver Chris Olave had eight catches for 112 yards while Rashid Shaheed caught Carr's lone touchdown pass. Another encouraging sign for the Saints was the return of wide receiver Michael Thomas, who had missed nearly all of the previous two seasons with injury. Thomas had five catches for 61 yards in the game. On the ground, the Saints were led by Jamaal Williams. Williams had 18 carries for just 45 yards for a paltry 2.5 yards per carry average.

Defensively, the Saints held the Titans to just 285 total yards of offense. They were particularly tough on third down with the Titans just 2-of-12 on conversions. The Saints' defense also forced three turnovers with three interceptions. Marcus Maye, Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo all had an interception in the win. The Saints also recorded three sacks and two tackles for loss against the Titans.

In 2022, the Saints finished the season at 7-10 and out of the playoffs. The team shuffled through a number of quarterbacks leading them to acquire Carr this offseason. The Saints finished 18th in total offense in the NFL. On the ground, they finished 19th in the league and 16th through the air. Carr should improve the team's passing game as well as the return of Thomas. The running game is hurting at the moment as they play without Alvin Kamara who is sitting out a four-game suspension. The addition of Jamaal Williams should give the Saints a nice one-two punch once he returns.

On the defensive end, the Saints had a solid campaign under defensive-minded head coach Dennis Allen. They were fifth in total defense in the NFL. The team was just 24th against the run but an impressive 2nd in the league against the pass. That was evident on Sunday with the Saints' three interceptions and three sacks.

Injury Report: S J.T. Gray (Shoulder) and RB Kendre Miller (Hamstring) are questionable. T Ryan Ramczyk (Rest), TE Jimmy Graham (Rest), and TE Juwan Johnson (Calf) are probable. RB Alvin Kamara (suspension) is out until Week 4.


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Home Debut for Young

It was certainly a learning experience for the NFL's #1 overall pick, Bryce Young, on Sunday in Atlanta in his regular-season debut for the Panthers. Young threw his first NFL touchdown pass in the game but also threw two interceptions in the game in a 24-10 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta.

“It just boils down to execution,’’ said Young. “It starts with me, making sure I’m executing, and then making sure we’re on the same page. We had opportunities. We didn’t take advantage of being able to capitalize.’’

Young finished the game 20-of-38 passing but for just 146 yards. Young failed to complete a pass for more than 14 yards in the game as the Panthers' offense was devoid of explosive plays. Tight end Hayden Hurst led the Panthers with five catches for 41 yards and the Panthers' lone touchdown. New running back Miles Sanders had 72 yards on 18 carries for a 4.0 yards per carry average. The Panthers had 20 first downs in the game overall and finished 5-of-14 on third down conversions. The Panthers had 281 yards of total offense.

On the defensive end, the Panthers to just 13 first downs and just 2-of-10 on third down conversions. The Falcons had just 221 yards of total offense but did average 4.6 yards per play. They were unable to force any turnovers in the game and had four sacks and six tackles for loss in the game. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown led the Panthers with eight tackles including a sack in the game.

The Panthers begin a new regime in 2023 with Young at quarterback and a new head coach, Frank Reich. Last season, the Panthers finished 7-10 and out of the playoff picture. The Panthers struggled mightily on the offensive end, finishing 29th in the NFL in total offense. They were 10th rushing the ball but just 29th through the air. The Panthers hope that the offensive mind of Reich coupled with the skills of Young will turn around the Panthers' passing attack.

On the defensive end, the Panthers were 22nd in the NFL in total defense in 2022. They were 18th against the run and 22nd against the pass. They did well against the Falcons but had to battle through the turnovers committed by the team's offense.

Injury Report: CB Jaycee Horn (Hamstring) is out. WR D.J. Chark (Hamstring) and T Taylor Moton (Biceps) are questionable.


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The Panthers surprised the Saints last year, winning both contests as underdogs in each game. On Monday night, however, I like the Saints to gain a measure of revenge with a win over the Panthers. Carr will continue to get more and more comfortable in the Saints' offense and is backed by a strong defense. Carr's chemistry with Olave was apparent in week one and Thomas' play was encouraging for the Saints as well. I expect the Saints to put a bit more emphasis on the ground game this week after struggling on the ground against the Titans. As long as the Saints stick to the ground attack, it will open up opportunities for Carr to throw the ball down the field. That down-the-field attack will come even a bit easier this week with Panthers CB Horn downgraded as out due to a hamstring injury.

Panthers' QB Young will likely have another challenging week facing an even tougher defense than he did in week one against the Falcons. The Saints' secondary is physical and will play a lot of man-to-man on the outside. The Panthers' lack of explosive plays in week one has to be a concern as Young only threw for just over 145 yards and didn't complete anything longer than 14 yards. The Titans presented a more experienced, physical challenge for the Saints in week one. Carr should find smoother sailing this week against the Panthers' defense.

Take the Saints -3

Prediction: New Orleans -3

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The Panthers and Saints combined to score just 26 points in week one. The Saints had just 16 points against the Titans' stout defense and struggled to find any success running the football. The Panthers only managed 10 points in their loss to the Falcons and were completely devoid of any explosive plays. Young also made two very bad reads in the middle of the field that resulted in interceptions by the Falcons' safeties. He will find things even more challenging against a Saints' secondary that had three interceptions against the Titans. Neither of these teams finished in the top half of the NFL in total offense in 2023 and, with new quarterbacks and new systems this year, it will take time for each team's offense to get comfortable. I expect another fairly low-scoring affair for each team on Monday night in Carolina.

Take the under.

Prediction: Under 40

Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.

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