The Carolina Panthers (6-10) make the short trip to tangle with the New Orleans Saints (7-9) at Caesars Superdome on Sunday for a season-ending NFC South clash.
Both teams were eliminated from postseason contention in Week 17.
The Panthers suffered a narrow 30-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, while the Saints defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by a 20-10 score but were still knocked out of the playoff picture after the Bucs’ victory over Carolina and the Packers win over the Vikings later in the afternoon.
Without further ado, let’s get into our Carolina vs New Orleans best bets, predictions, and betting tips for this Week 18 divisional battle.
Panthers vs Saints Odds
The Saints’ status as 3.5-point home favorites on Caesars Sportsbook as of noon ET on Tuesday, Jan. 3, isn’t entirely surprising considering oddsmakers were likely to give the edge in a non-postseason-relevant season-ending matchup between two similarly talented teams to the home squad.
The projected total of 41.5 also seems reasonable, considering each team’s inconsistent offenses and solid defenses.
Panthers vs Saints Implied Totals
Saints 22.5, Panthers 19
Oddsmakers clearly expect modest offensive outputs from both squads with neither team having anything but pride to play for, and the lower projected scoring also seems to underscore the implied knowledge each team has about its division rival’s offensive attack.
Panthers vs Saints Pick of the Day
Read more on this Panthers vs Saints bet below.
Panthers vs Saints Prediction
Saints 27, Panthers 17
The fact the Saints will fall short of the postseason doesn’t sully what head coach Dennis Allen and his troops have been able to accomplish in the latter portion of the season. New Orleans is just a couple of points short of coming into this Week 18 clash with a four-game winning streak, and they’ve accomplished that surge without Michael Thomas (toe) and largely sans Jarvis Landry (ankle) as well, with both wideouts residing on IR.
They also were operating without standout cornerback Marshon Lattimore since Week 5 until his remarkable return against the Eagles, which saw him garner a pick-six off Gardner Minshew. New Orleans’ pass defense was already profiling as one of the league’s best without him, especially at home, where the Saints are allowing a minuscule 179.9 passing yards per game.
The Saints have struggled to generate turnovers without Lattimore - they have a league-low five interceptions on the season - but they get a crack at the erratic Sam Darnold in this matchup.
Darnold has thrown just one interception in five games this season, but given he’d tossed 52 picks in his first 50 NFL games entering 2022, it’s fair to say both he may be overdue for some regression. Likewise, New Orleans’ meager INT total looks like an aberration when considering they’ve been very good at pressuring quarterbacks with 46 sacks in 16 games.
Consequently, with the home crowd behind them, I look for New Orleans’ D - Allen’s specialty as a coach - to disrupt the Panthers consistently in this finale.
On the other side, Andy Dalton, Chris Olave, and speedy, surging rookie Rashid Shaheed are likely giddy with anticipation at the prospect of taking some shots against the Panthers’ short-handed secondary. Carolina placed Jaycee Horn (wrist) on injured reserve Monday, joining fellow starting corner Donte Jackson (Achilles), who hit the list in mid-November.
The Panthers’ vulnerability was abundantly exposed by Tom Brady and Mike Evans in the Bucs’ Week 17 win when the future Hall of Fame quarterback threw for 432 yards and connected with Evans on three long touchdowns.
With an advantage on both sides of the ball and the added edge of home field on their side, I like the Saints to notch a fairly comfortable win.
Panthers vs Saints Bet Tips
Here are a few Panthers vs Saints betting trends to consider before making your bets:
- The Panthers are 8-8 against the spread this season, including 3-4 as a road team and 4-1 in division games.
- The Saints are 7-9 against the spread this season, including 3-4 as a home team and 1-4 in division games.
- The Over is 8-8 in the Panthers’ games this season, including 4-3 in their road games and 2-3 in their division games.
- The Over is 6-10 in the Saints’ games this season, including 3-4 in their home games and 1-4 in their games against NFC South opponents.
Panthers vs Saints Best Bets
Saints -3.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
As noted, the Saints have gathered plenty of momentum during the latter stretch of the season, and they’ll be motivated to still close things out on a winning note despite being eliminated from playoff contention. New Orleans’ stingy secondary, which only got better with Lattimore’s return, should goad Darnold into enough mistakes to help lead to a win of at least four points.
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Saints: Over 2.5 Touchdowns (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
As previously noted, New Orleans has some speedy passing game weapons in Olave and Shaheed in particular, while complementary options such as Taysom Hill, Juwan Johnson, and even Alvin Kamara can make plenty of noise through the air, as well.
With Carolina sporting an injury-hampered secondary, the Saints should be able to generate at least a couple of TDs on offense, not to mention the pretty strong likelihood that at least one score comes on defense against the mistake-prone Darnold.
Want to bet on the Saints? Check out the best Louisiana sportsbooks!
Panthers vs Saints Props
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