Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NFL Predictions 2014 Week 9: Saints Vs. Panthers

New Orleans Saints Vs. Carolina Panthers: NO -2.5 (-115) (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

An interesting question we have to ask ourselves each week is whether or not the line adjustments are legitimate or a simple overreaction to what we saw on the weekend. This game might be the perfect example of that because the Panthers were -1.5 point favorites in the look-ahead line, reopened at "pick em" on Sunday night, and promptly moved to -2.5 in favor of the Saints soon after. With 78% of the early bets coming in on New Orleans, there's a good chance this line is headed for -3.

Bottom Line

Both of these teams have confused the hell out of bettors all season long. The Panthers were supposed to regress heavily this year, but started out the year strong. After a few games though, they steadily declined to where most people expected. The opposite is true of the Saints. Some even had them winning the Super Bowl, but their defense has been a mess and the offense wasn't clicking. With the big win over the Packers, have they begun to turn it around?

It's a tough question to answer with any certainty. For whatever reason Drew Brees raises his game in the Superdome when the bright lights are on (40TD, 3 INT last 11 home prime-time games). There's also the familiar storyline that Brees is comparatively bad on the road. I've been guilty of this assumption in the past too, but Bill Barnwell wrote a good article on the subject last January. Essentially, there's no real indication that Brees is abnormally worse on the road.

So what do we have with this specific matchup on Thursday night? Well the Saints defense ranks near the bottom of the league in passing, third down, and the red zone. These are big red flags, but guess what? The Panthers defense is equally poor in all of the same categories. Performance-wise, there's not much separating these two units.

That leaves us with the offenses ... and even if Brees isn't as good as he was last week, it's safe to say that he's more than capable of outscoring Carolina's offense. Despite their struggles this year, they rank near the top in run efficiency, third down conversions, and drive success rates. Carolina don't rank in the top 10 in any offensive category this year.

I'll roll with the Saints at -2.5. Once it hits -3 you're stuck with lost value, but it's also not the worst bet either. In reality, this line should probably be -3.5.

NFL Pick: NO -2.5.

Read moreWeek 9 picks.