New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers – NFL, Week 2 (2021)
The NFC South started off the 2021 season on a good note with three wins over the weekend. Tampa Bay won their season opener as expected over Dallas, and the Panthers and Saints followed up with wins of their own.
New Orleans had one of the most impressive wins in Week 1 after demolishing Green Bay in a neutral-site game in Jacksonville due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Jameis Winston became the first-ever passer to throw for five touchdown passes while going under 150 yards.
Alvin Kamara put together a solid performance, but the defense made Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay look lost. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones were coming off monster seasons and nearly got blanked by New Orleans.
Carolina made Zach Wilson’s NFL debut a forgettable one. The Jets rookie passer didn’t find any success until garbage time. By then, it was too little, too late. This matchup has the making of being hotly contested.
Here are the latest odds between these two NFC South foes, along with my prediction and top betting pick.
Saints vs. Panthers Odds
New Orleans enters week two in the NFL as mild 3-point road favorites, per the top NFL betting sites.
The Panthers have covered in six of their past ten games as 3-point underdogs or fewer at home. Carolina went 2-1 in those games last season and didn’t have quite the offensive talent they possess currently. They won six of them outright, and this is a game that many have circled for Week 2.
The team even went 7-1 straight up, with the lone loss being a 47-14 beatdown to Washington in November of 2015.
The over is 10-3 in the past 13 meetings between these two teams. This one may feel odd without Cam Newton and Drew Brees under center.
These teams have what it takes to put on an NFC South classic. Before Sunday arrives, here are your keys to victory for this NFC South clash between the Saints and Panthers.
Why the Saints Will Win
New Orleans is one of the hotter teams in the NFL after the opening weekend, and Sean Payton proved why he is an offensive guru. Jameis Winston already looks the best he ever has in the league, passing the ball with production like his old days at Florida State.
The ACC isn’t quite as dominant as the NFL is, but Winston did not miss a throw over the weekend. He’s the talk of the NFL right now.
The offense has had moving pieces over the years, but Payton’s system has been one of the more productive ones in the league.
Alvin Kamara is fully capable of carrying this offense on his back and having a sensational performance against Carolina. In six career games against them, he has reached paydirt six times and eclipsed 500 yards. For a player to post 80-plus receptions every season in his career thus far, speaks volumes.
New Orleans often goes how Kamara plays. The ability to have the better defense in this matchup will give them the edge they need in the fourth quarter.
Why the Panthers Will Win
The Saints have had a miserable start to their week. Eight members of their organization tested positive for COVID-19. Marcus Lattimore (thumb), Erik McCoy (calf), Kwon Alexander (elbow), and Marcus Davenport (pectoral) could all be out this weekend, so Carolina is catching a break at the perfect time.
After their demolition on Green Bay, everybody is saying the Saints are a playoff contender. Look out Sam Darnold, who is vital to the success of Carolina this season.
The former Jet signal-caller took it to his former team and now has the pieces to take the next step in his career. Robby Anderson connected for a deep score, and D.J. Moore is a stud starting wideout in the NFL.
A solid offensive line paved the way for Christian McCaffrey to have one of his better games in years. When CMC is getting to the outside, the opposition is in deep trouble.
Last season, Carolina was able to make the offense work with Teddy Bridgewater, Curtis Samuel, and Mike Davis. All three of those part-time pieces are gone, and there is a new trio. Darnold, McCaffrey, and Terrace Marshall have rejuvenated the franchise.
Joe Brady and Matt Rhule continue to find creative ways to improve the franchise, and they are a live underdog against New Orleans.
Saints vs. Panthers Prediction
The Panthers are going to put together a winning season if they can pull this game off. They have a favorable schedule after a challenging 2020 campaign, but the new faces on offense have enabled them to reach stardom.
Their defense was quietly productive last week for the first three quarters against the Jets.
Shaq Thompson is an all-world defender, but other youngsters around him passed the eye test. Derrick Brown, Brian Burns, and Haason Reddick all chipped in with sacks against the Jets.
We know the offense does its part, but the defense could make them a dark horse playoff squad.
Saints vs. Panthers Pick
Carolina at home has been a pleasant surprise in divisional matchups, and it was impressive seeing Darnold pass the eye test in the opener.
They have speed on the outside to go along with CMC, who is multi-dimensional in the passing and rushing attack.
The value is on the Panthers getting points at home. Feel free to hammer the Moneyline, but take the points for Carolina in a game that likely comes down to the wire.