September 18, 2023
We are being treated to a doubleheader on Monday Night Football in Week 2 of the NFL season, featuring a pair of divisional matchups. The young Carolina Panthers will host the division-favourite New Orleans Saints while the Cleveland Browns will head into Pittsburgh to battle their bitter rivals, the Steelers.
There’s a lot of ground to cover as we break down the first game of the night happening in Carolina between the Panthers and the Saints. In this preview, we will take a closer look at both teams, the potential mismatches, any injuries, and all the information you could possibly need.
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Saints vs. Panthers odds
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About the Saints (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 o/u)
Despite being in the friendly confines of the Caesars Superdome, one look at the box score and you would think the Week 1 game between the Saints and Titans was played in the soggy, rainy conditions that much of the league played in last Sunday.
But the game was not played in the rain, and instead, the ugly back-and-forth defensive battle was a huge field-goal fest. The Saints walked out as 16-15 winners in what was hands down the toughest game to watch on opening weekend. The Saints were defintely happy to get the win but a lot of work needs to be done.
Quarterback Derek Carr had a solid Saints debut, throwing for 305 yards, and tossing the game’s lone touchdown. The Saints’ rushing attack was pedestrian, however, with Jamaal Williams garnering a paltry 45 yards on 18 attempts to lead the ground game on the day.
If there is one major positive, it is the performance of the defence. Though the Titans’ offence is not exactly a world-beater, the Saints’ defence came to play. They picked up a trio of sacks on Ryan Tannehill and picked him off three times. The Titans did have some success on the ground, however, rushing for 104 yards as a team.
About the Panthers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 o/u)
On paper, the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Falcons on the road in Week 1 was bad. But if you watched the game, you would know that things were tight until the fourth quarter began. Tyler Allgeier punched in a pair of three-yard touchdown runs to give the Falcons an insurmountable lead over a Panthers offence that struggled all day.
The Panthers actually found some semblance of balance on the ground thanks to the two-headed rushing attack of Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard. Sanders picked up 72 yards on 18 carries while Hubbard added another 60 yards on nine carries to propel the Panthers to 154 yards on the ground for the day.
For Bryce Young, the rookie quarterback and No. 1 pick, the day was forgettable. He finished 20-for-38, throwing for 146 yards, a touchdown, and a pair of interceptions. He had moments where the talent was obviously there and others where it became apparent that this was his first NFL start.
Though the Falcons have a quality running game, there are some questions about the competency of the Panthers’ run defence. The Falcons controlled things on the ground, only needing 91 passing yards to still win by two scores. The Saints struggled running the ball in Week 1, so this could be something of a get-right for the Panthers’ ground defence.
Both teams would like to forget one aspect of the rushing game from Week 1. For the Panthers, they would like to forget being gashed by Bijan Robinson and the Falcons’ ground attack. For the Saints, they would like to forget how pedestrian the rushing attack looked against a mediocre Titans defence.
That being said, the mismatch of the day will be when the ball is in the air. Young and the Panthers’ pass offence looked bad against what is really a middling Falcons defence. The Saints have some good players on their defence, and Tannehill paid the price for the Titans as a result.
This could wind up being a nightmare scenario for the young franchise quarterback. He will need to remain calm, find his progressions, and use his feet more than he did against Atlanta. The Saints are too talented and deep on defence to think that there will be open first reads for much of the game.
Total: Under 39.5 points
The Panthers got a big blow a few days ago when cornerback Jaycee Horn was placed on injured reserve. His hamstring has been an issue all throughout camp and he will now miss several games hoping to heal quickly from that injury
For the Saints, things are relatively quiet on the injury front. Most eyes will be on receiver Michael Thomas as he continues to come back from ankle injuries that have destroyed much of his last two seasons. When healthy, Thomas has been one of the best receivers in the game and will make a difference offensively.
It will be ideal weather when things kick off at 7:15 p.m. ET on Monday Night. The skies will be clear, there is no chance of rain, and the winds will be almost non-existent. The temperature at kickoff should be around 15C, which is a bit on the cooler side but definitely gives us the feeling of fall football weather.
The Panthers, despite being one of the worst teams in the league a year ago, were 9-8 against the spread. The Panthers were underdogs of three points or more nine times last year, including twice at home. They went 1-1 ATS at home and 5-4 overall as underdogs of three points or more. They also hit the under in five of nine home games last year, something to watch in this one.
The over/under line for this one is 39.5 points, a total that the Saints went over seven times a year ago. That said, the Saints were a paltry 6-10 against the spread, though they were 4-2 in games in which they were moneyline favourites. In games where they were -165 or shorter, they were 3-1 (they are -160 in this one).
Player prop trends
Chris Olave, the featured receiver in the Saints offence, has averaged 60.7 yards per game over his last 10 games. In Week 2, his over/under is set at 69.5 following a dominant Week 1 performance when he caught eight passes for 112 yards against the Titans. He did manage to hit his receiving yardage over 50% of the time in those last 10 games and looks to be a bigger part of the offence this season.
Miles Sanders is thought to be the feature back in Carolina this year, picking up 72 yards in the opening week loss. Last season, he averaged 74.6 yards per game, hitting the over on his rushing prop 47% of the time (8 of 17 games). His over/under is set at 59.5 against what should be a tough Saints defence that allowed just 63 yards to Derrick Henry of the Titans.
Derek Carr over 235.5 passing yards
Wagers to consider
This one is going to be ugly, though likely not as ugly as last week’s Titans-Saints game. Confidently take the under (39.5, -110) in this one as the final should be very similar to the 24-10 score that the Panthers posted against the Falcons just a week ago.
Despite that, Carr knows how to get his yards. He had over 300 yards last week against the Titans, a traditionally strong defence over the past few seasons (though there are questions this year). His passing yards prop is set at 235.5 yards (-110), and if he can avoid pressure from the Panthers front seven, he has more than enough targets to exploit a bad Panthers secondary.
The Saints look like the better team, though their rushing attack is still very much a work in progress. The offence has the pieces to be successful while the Panthers have far too many questions to answer. Pick the Saints to cover the spread (-3, -110) and produce a two-score win similar to what the Falcons did in Week 1.