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On Sunday, January 7th, the (11-5) Carolina Panthers will be on the road to take on the (11-5) New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs.
“The Crowd” is projecting a final score of Saints 28.2 – Panthers 23.2 with an over/under of 51.4.
2017-18 Statistics (32 total teams):
Yards per game: Saints 391.2 (2nd) > Panthers 323.7 (19th)
Points per game: Saints 28.0 (4th) > Panthers 22.7 (12th)
Turnover margin: Saints +7 > Panthers -1
Fewest yards allowed per game: Panthers 317.1 (7th) > Saints 336.5 (17th)
Fewest Points allowed per game: Saints 20.4 (10th) = Panthers 20.4 (10th)
The Saints ended the regular season with a 31-24 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers outgained the Saints 455-323 in total yardage. Drew Brees was 22-30 for 245 yards and a touchdown. The New Orleans running game totaled 92 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries (3.5 average). Michael Thomas had 94 yards receiving while Alvin Kamara had 84 yards. The Saints defense struggled allowing their highest point total in six weeks. New Orleans was able to force Jameis Winston into three interceptions but could not keep pace with the Buccaneers offensively. The Saints (+122) rank 6th in the NFL in point differential.
Carolina ended their three-game winning streak with a 22-10 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons outgained the Panthers 371-248 in total yardage. Cam Newton was terrible going 14-34 for 180 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Newton did have 59 rushing yards on 11 carries but was lucky to recover two fumbles. The Panthers, as a team, totaled 87 rushing yards on 24 carries (3.6 average). Carolina’s defense played relatively well but the turnovers proved to be the deciding factor in the outcome of this one. The Panthers (+36) rank 12th in the NFL in point differential.
The Saints are (2-0) against the Panthers this season beating them 34-13 in Carolina and 31-21 in New Orleans. Both teams rank top five in rushing yards per game but New Orleans is the vastly superior passing team. Drew Brees will benefit from Carolina stacking box to stop Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Cam Newton is coming off one of his worst game of the season and has been turnover prone all season. It’s hard to pick against Brees and the Saints when they’ve had so much success against Carolina this season.
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