Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:30 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Carolina +3 over New Orleans
7:15 PM EST. The Saints clipped the Titans 16-15 at home last week, while the Panthers lost badly to the Falcons, 24-10 (on paper). The difference in those games and this matchup comes down to the quarterbacks. The Panthers are working towards the future, but the Saints acquired Derek Carr to win now, at least that’s what the media’s narrative is.
The Saints victory over a weak Tennessee team was both sloppy and lucky. The Saints won the turnover battle 4-2 and yet won by just one lousy point. Tennessee had more first downs and also held a 31-29 edge in time of possession. Furthermore, that game was in New Orleans and now the Saints will play on the road.
Still, the market is much more inclined to back a proven and experienced QB like Derek Carr over a rookie QB like Bryce Young but oddsmakers aren’t concerned one bit. You see, the Panthers are in Year 1 of a total rebuild with a rookie quarterback and it’s just not very appealing, especially when every pregame show you watch says, “It’s going to take some time”.
Life is different working at the bottom of the NFL instead of with the talent-bursting Crimson Tide. Bryce Young's debut only produced 20-of-38 for 146 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions but let’s give the kid a break. He now has one game under his belt and did not look a bit out of place. Carolina indeed lost to Atlanta but that final score of 24-10 was very misleading. Carolina had 20 first downs and held Atlanta to just 13. The Panthers had 282 yards to Atlanta’s 222 yards. The Panthers absolutely dominated the time of possession but they lost the turnover battle 3-0, which is a luck based statistic that impacts games more than anything else. Had Carolina not turned it over three times last week they would have gone into Atlanta and beat the Dirty Birds.
We are acutely aware of the matchup and how difficult it is to get behind the Panthers here. Everything we have read and heard points to an easy Saints victory. The narratives are that New Orleans defense is elite, Derek Carr threw for over 300 yards while Young was sacked twice and threw two picks in an underwhelming debut. There is also the injury to Panthers star cornerback Jaycee Horn (hamstring) who was placed on injured reserve and that the Panthers are a team that opponents want on their schedule. As contrarian bettors, especially in prime time games, it’s at times difficult to make a case for the underdog but Carolina looked better against Atlanta last week than the Saints looked against Tennessee. Carolina was also on the road while the Saints were at home. As contrarian bettors, especially in prime time games, we’re always leery of games that look too easy and this one checks a lot of boxes for us. If you’re on board with the Panthers, wait until game time before pulling the trigger because we’re confident that we’ll get +3½ or maybe even +4 by kickoff.
Carolina +3 +101 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.02)