Panthers at Saints Prediction (Wild Card)
- Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (NO -6.5)
These two NFC South teams face off each other in the wild card round. The Saints won the division this season and swept Cam Newton and the Panthers in both match ups previously.
The Saints are one of the best offensive teams in the league this season, due to their veteran future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees who has finished the 2017 season with a completion rate of 72% and a QBR that ranks 9th in the league. More or most of their offensive success comes from two Pro Bowl running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram who has combined for almost 2000 rushing yards and over 1200 receiving yards. All things together, the Saints offense is ranked 2nd overall.
The Panthers Defense however is a good defensive team, especially stopping the run. The Panthers rank 3rd in stopping the run this year holding teams to around 88 rushing yards per game. but their passing defense is below average allowing about 250 passing yards per game. That noted, the Panthers defense isn't good enough to stop the Saints dangerous balanced offense. This Defense allowed the Saints to score over 30 points in their 2 previous match ups.
The Saints on the other hand have played well against the Panthers Defensively, allowing 13 points in the first match up and 21 in the second. You could say the Saints know how to defend the Panthers well, Not to mention the Panthers are not a well balanced offense, Although they rank 3rd in rushing, their passing game is terrible ranking 28th in the league. These stats can be directly linked to QB Cam Newton who can run the ball as well as anyone but passing the ball, he is pretty bad. I will say, if Newton has a good passing performance, the Panthers are as good as anyone in the league. But "if" is the keyword. Newton has been wildly inconsistent passing the ball, he has a completion percentage of 59.1% this season and has only thrown over 65% 3 times. He won 2 of those 3 times and the one loss came against the Saints.
The Saints are to good for the Panthers to win this game, and even if Newton had a good game rushing and passing, it probably wont be enough to combat the Saints high scoring offense.
- Prediction: Saints 28 - Panthers 17