New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 52)
The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers won’t have long to stew following heart-wrenching defeats as the NFC South rivals tangle on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The Saints fell on the wrong end of history on Sunday when they saw an extra point returned for a defensive two-point conversion in a 25-23 setback to Denver while the Panthers let a 14-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate in a 20-17 loss to Kansas City.
“I think (the short turnaround is) a good thing because all you want to do is get back on the field as fast as you can,” New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. Brees (NFL second-best 2,992 yards) torched Carolina in the first encounter, throwing for 465 yards and four touchdowns before rookie Wil Lutz drilled a 52-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in a 41-38 win on Oct. 16. Cam Newton had a strong performance in his own right with three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) against the Saints, but the reigning NFL MVP ignited the meltdown against the Chiefs as his ill-advised pass was intercepted by Eric Berry and returned 42 yards for a score. “What we’ve done is put our backs completely against the wall. There is no room for error now,” coach Ron Rivera said of the cellar-dwelling Panthers, who are saddled with an 0-3 mark in the division.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The Panthers opened as 4-point home favorites and that line was bet down to -3 before recovering slightly to the current number of -3.5. The total hit the board at 51 and was bumped up a full point to 52 by Tuesday afternoon. Check out the complete history here.
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a perfect night for football at Bank Of America Stadium on Thursday night. Conditions are expected to be clear throughout the day with game-time temperatures in the mid-50’s and barely a whisper of wind (1 mph).
Saints – S K. Vaccaro (Probable, possible suspension), RB D. Lasco (Questionable, hamstring), T T. Armstead (Questionable, leg), WR T. Lewis (Questionable, undisclosed), LB S. Anthony (Questionable, hamstring), CB D. Breaux (Questionable, leg), RB T. Cadet (Questionable, toe), LB D. Ellerbe (Questionable, quadricep), P T. Morstead (Questionable, ankle), DL D. Onyemata (Questionable, knee), OL A. Young (Questionable, undisclosed).
Panthers – C R. Kalil (Probable, shoulder), RB J. Stewart (Probable, undisclosed), LB S. Thompson (Questionable, knee), S C. Jones (Questionable, concussion), DT K. Love (Questionable, knee), C G. Gradkowski (Questionable, knee), LB A. Klein (Questionable, concussion), TE E. Dickson (Questionable, calf), T M. Oher (Out, concussion).
ABOUT THE SAINTS (4-5 SU, 6-3 ATS, 5-4 O/U): Brandin Cooks enjoyed a career day in his previous encounter with Carolina, highlighting his career-high 173-yard performance with an 87-yard touchdown. The lengthy score began a string of four touchdowns in the last five games for the 23-year-old Cooks, who leads the team with six TDs and 694 yards receiving. Fellow wideout Michael Thomas leads rookies in catches (51), receiving yards (613) and touchdown receptions (five), but was held to his lowest yardage total (40) on Sunday and also lost a pair of fumbles – his first two of the season. Willie Snead, a former member of the Panthers’ practice squad, had two touchdowns on Sunday, marking the first time he reached the end zone since the first two weeks of the season.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-6 SU, 2-6-1 ATS, 5-4 O/U): Newton has plenty of weapons at his disposal as he tries to exploit a Saints defense that is yielding an NFL fourth-worst 400.6 yards per contest. Kelvin Benjamin looks to atone after his costly fumble led to the Chiefs’ game-winning field goal with another strong outing versus New Orleans, against which he reeled in eight receptions on 14 targets in the first meeting. Fellow wideout Devin Funchess had a touchdown reception on Sunday against Kansas City and also had a 17-yard catch for a score in the first encounter with the Saints. Greg Olsen had six catches for 94 yards in the first meeting with New Orleans and leads all tight ends with 50 receptions and 712 yards receiving.
* Saints are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Panthers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Over is 8-0 in Saints last 8 vs. a team with a losing record.
* Over is 5-1 in Panthers last 6 games following a ATS loss.
* Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The road team underdog New Orleans Saints are picking up 62 percent of the point spread action and Over is grabbing 75 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.
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