New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Saints were one of the best teams in the league that didn’t make the playoffs in 2014, finishing 11th in rate of moving the chains differential. However, they had a very rough off-season, getting rid of Kenny Stills, Ben Grubbs, and Jimmy Graham on offense and Junior Galette on defense. They added CJ Spiller, Max Unger, Andrus Peat, Brandon Browner and Stephone Anthony, but it was still a tough off-season for them. Things have only gotten worse as the season has started, as the Saints are 0-2 and rank 25th in rate of moving the chains differential, getting blown out in Arizona and then losing by a touchdown at home to Tampa Bay. Without Stills and Graham, they have arguably the worst receiving corps in football. Their defense is even worse without Galette and has been missing starters Jairus Byrd, Dannell Ellerbe, Anthony Spencer, and Keenan Lewis with injury. Lewis and Ellerbe are expected back this week, but they aren’t very good.
Now the Saints are going to be without quarterback Drew Brees, easily their most important player, with a shoulder injury, forcing 34-year-old career journeyman backup Luke McCown into action with one of the worst receiving corps in football helping him and one of the worst defenses in football supporting him. If the Saints are going to keep this game close, it’s going to be on the ground, but, as their roster will be in this game, they are one of the worst teams in the league. I don’t think 8 points is too many for Carolina to be favored by, even with Luke Kuechly out with injury, though I’m not confident at all.
Carolina Panthers 27 New Orleans Saints 17
Pick against the spread: Carolina -8