Carolina Panthers (6-9) at New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Aside from this being a divisional matchup, this is a completely meaningless game for these two teams. Both are out of the playoffs. I have a rule against making significant plays on completely meaningless games. If the teams might not care about a game, I shouldn’t either. There’s just no way to predict what kind of effort either side is going to give.
However, if I had to pick a side, I’d take the Panthers, who I think are really underrated. They’ve lost just 2 games by more than 6 points this season and as a result, they rank a modest 19th in net points per drive. That’s actually a good amount of spots behind the Saints, who rank 12th and we’re not really getting any line value with the Panthers using the net points per drive method, as that says this line should be New Orleans -5, which is right where it is.
That being said, the Panthers rank much better in DVOA, which is net points per drive based, but also takes other things into account. The Panthers rank 12th in DVOA, while the Saints rank 20th and the Panthers rank even better in weighted DVOA, which puts greater weight on more recent games, ranking 9th, while New Orleans ranks 18th. This is because the Panthers have won 4 of 5, only losing in Kansas City after the Jovan Belcher incident. Of those 4 wins, 3 have come by double digits.
We’re also getting a chance to fade a heavy public lean with the Panthers, as the public is all over the Saints. I like this because the public always loses money in the long run. The Panthers should be the right side, but again, it’s hard to like either side. I also hate going against the Saints in the Superdome, but these underrated Panthers should at least keep it close.
New Orleans (70% range)
New Orleans Saints 27 Carolina Panthers 24
Pick against spread: Carolina +5 (-110) 2 units