Carolina (11-0) at New Orleans (7-0)
When: Sunday, December 6th 2015
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Time: 4:25 ET | TV: FOX
Almost one year ago today, the Carolina Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 41-10 in the Superdome to start a regular season winning streak that hasn’t ended. They have won 16 games in a row and are the only undefeated team left in the NFL at 11-0. Carolina barely beat the Saints earlier this year 27-22 at home in a game that Drew Brees did not play. Carolina won a bunch of close games early on, but have since starting putting it to their opponents. In the last three games they have beaten the opposition by an average of 21.3 points a game including last week’s 33-14 win at Dallas on Thanksgiving – a game in which they were somehow underdogs again. The defense has been superb and its been getting better as the season rolls on. They’re ranked 2nd in total defense (312.5 yards), 5th against the pass (223.8), 2nd against the run (88.7), and 3rd in points allowed (18.6). They are also averaging three sacks a game led by DE Kony Ealy who has recorded a sack in five straight games. Cam Newton continues to impress without any top flight receivers. He has now passed and run for a touchdown in the same game 30 times in his career, which is one shy of Steve Young’s record. Running back Jonathan Stewart has taken some of the load off Newton with 832 yards rushing this season and four touchdowns. Carolina begins a stretch today in which they’ll play a division game in four of the next five weeks to finish the season including Atlanta twice.
The Saints early season loss to Carolina put them at 0-3, but they rebounded nicely and won four of their next five games before losing their next three games coming into today. Their defense has been completely opposite of Carolina’s ranking last or 31st in yards allowed and points. They’re allowing 38.5 points per game in their last four contests. Last week’s 24-6 loss at Houston was the first time in 10 years that the Saints have failed to score at least 7 points. Brees had his worst game of the season against Houston, but is always dangerous at home. He has thrown a touchdown pass at home for a record 51 consecutive games. That streak will be tested today against Carolina. Running back Mark Ingram has been a disappointment lately running for less than 81 yards in four straight games. As bad as the season has been, they’re still only two games out of the playoffs and we’ve seen teams before come from nowhere to make the playoffs. The rest of their schedule isn’t too difficult with the Bucs, Lions, and Jaguars up next, however a loss today could eliminate any hope.
This is New Orleans’ Super Bowl today. They would like nothing more than to beat their division rival and end their perfection. Remember, they played Carolina tough without Brees. I think the Panthers pull it out, but it will be close.
Pick: Saints +7