New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Panthers’ defense has been incredible through the first 2 games of the season with Luke Kuechly back from the concussions that cost him time last season and with a pair of young cornerbacks (James Bradberry and Daryl Worley) taking a step forward. They’ve allowed just 23 first downs and no touchdowns through 2 games. Even against the likes of the Bills and the 49ers, those kind of numbers are impressive. Unfortunately, their offense has some major issues. Cam Newton still looks rusty after off-season surgery and their offense struggled to move the ball all game against the Bills after losing tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil, a pair of very valuable veteran offensive players.
Olsen and Kalil will be out for an extended period of time, so the Panthers will have to adapt. Fortunately, they get to face arguably the worst defense in the league this week with the Saints coming to town. The Saints’ defense is banged up too, missing #1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore and slot cornerback Sterling Moore. Between those two and Delvin Breaux, who has been out all season, the Saints are missing their top-3 cornerbacks. They are also without a talented defensive tackle, Nick Fairley, for the season.
The Saints also have key players missing on offense, with left tackle Terron Armstead and right tackle Zach Strief both out with injuries and #2 wide receiver Willie Snead still suspended. With both teams banged up, this line is right around where it should be at 5.5. I am taking the Panthers just because the Saints have to go to London after this one and teams are understandably 11-21 ATS before going to London all-time. The Saints could easily keep it close throughout or get a backdoor touchdown late though.
Carolina Panthers 27 New Orleans Saints 20
Pick against the spread: Carolina -5.5