Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
The Saints got blown out in Seattle last week 34-7, but there’s not a lot of shame in getting blown out in Seattle. They have the most powerful homefield advantage in the NFL and they also might be the best team in the NFL. This week, the Saints return home, where they have probably the 2nd most powerful homefield advantage in the NFL. The Saints haven’t lost against the spread, or straight up, at home under Sean Payton since 2010, 15 games.
Their only non-cover of that time period was three weeks ago at home as 3 point favorites against the 49ers, a 3 point win and push. Even that game should not have been that close, as they won despite losing the turnover battle by 2. They had 23 first downs to 12 for the 49ers and could have won by much more if it wasn’t for a muffed punt and a fumbled pick six. New Orleans at home is almost always as auto-bet. They’re 30-13 ATS as home favorites since 2008, including 27-10 ATS under Sean Payton.
This line would ordinarily suggest these two teams are even, as home field advantage is usually 3 points. They are very evenly matched teams. The Panthers rank 1st in the NFL in terms of rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 79% rate, as opposed to 69% for their opponents. The Saints, meanwhile, are 2nd, as they move the chains at an 80% rate, as opposed to 72% for their opponents. In terms of DVOA, the Panthers are 3rd, as opposed to 4th for their opponents.
However, 3 points is not the appropriate adjustment for the Saints’ home field advantage. This line should be at least 5 or 6, instead of 3, even if we agree these two teams are even, which I think they are. The Saints also usually dominate after a loss, going 20-8 ATS off of a loss since 2008, including 16-4 ATS under Sean Payton. They’re also 11-3 ATS at home at night since Drew Brees came to town in 2006. They should put up a dominant performance here. I’m very confident they’ll win by at least 3. It’s worth noting I’m 12-0 ATS picking Saints games this season.
New Orleans Saints 31 Carolina Panthers 17
Pick against spread: New Orleans -3