Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season concludes with a Monday Night Football doubleheader – first up, we break down Saints vs. Panthers odds.
bet365 has New Orleans at -3 on the spread, and that appears to be the consensus line across all sportsbooks as of Monday afternoon. The Saints are -170 on the moneyline, with Carolina at +150, which is the best price on the market for the Panthers.
In Week 1, the Saints edged out the Titans by a single point, while Bryce Young struggled in his NFL debut against the Falcons. Young, the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, tries to right the ship in this primetime NFC South game that happens to be his home debut at Bank of America Stadium.
There are some key injuries to monitor for this NFC South clash. For the Saints, running back Kendre Miller is dealing with a hamstring injury. For the Panthers, wide receiver DJ Chark is also battling a hamstring injury but logged a full practice on Saturday — he’d be making his Carolina debut if active.
It’s time to preview Monday Night Football between New Orleans and Carolina and then make a Saints vs. Panthers pick and betting prediction.
Saints vs. Panthers
The Panthers finished Week 1 with the fourth-highest success rate on rushing plays. Because the game played out in a way that forced the Panthers into a negative game script, they were forced to go pass heavy earlier than head coach Frank Reich would have wanted.
Turnovers and short fields gave the Falcons the lead, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Panthers were able to effectively run the ball on standard downs in the loss.
Most of the Panthers’ problems came in the passing game, where they finished 24th in Dropback Success Rate — Young was 20-of-38 for 146 yards and two turnovers.
Hayden Hurst was the leading receiver for Carolina, and the other options really struggled to separate against the Falcons’ defensive backs.
DJ Chark was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and a full participant on Saturday, so he’s trending toward playing on Monday night. Chark’s return would be a boost to the receiving room.
New Orleans finished Week 1 with the lowest Rushing Success Rate in the NFL, which puts a lot of pressure on Carr to produce.
Nothing in Carr’s debut with the Saints suggests that he’s any different from the version we saw last season with Las Vegas. Carr had excellent Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) numbers inside the Dome — that could be harder for him to replicate outdoors.
Carolina’s pass rush unit was 11th in Week 1 pass rush win rate, and pressure has consistently been Carr’s kryptonite. He played well under pressure in Week 1, but that tends to be noisy in small samples. His performance from clean pockets underwhelmed (6.5 yards per attempt).
Last season, Carr had a tendency to force the ball downfield, even from clean pockets, resulting in a bunch of turnover-worthy plays and mediocre Pro Football Focus grades. Carr ranked 30th in Success Rate per dropback last season out of 42 quarterbacks who had at least 150 plays. He finished 34th in CPOE.
The Saints’ inability to run the ball means that they will continue to have major struggles in the red zone. Carr will miss the versatility of Alvin Kamara in the red area as well, which hurts their ability to separate.
The longer the game stays close, the more Carolina’s run game can be a viable path to offense.
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Saints vs. Panthers
Betting Picks & Predictions
We’ve seen Frank Reich-led teams consistently underperform expectations in Week 1 and then bounce back in Week 2. Reich is 0-5-1 in Week 1 against the spread, but he’s rebounded with a 4-1 record straight-up in Week 2.
Time and time again, the Colts looked unprepared and played badly under Reich. The market overreacted to that performance and they were an excellent bet in Week 2. Carolina opened at +3.5 at most books, and the market has now settled in at Panthers +3.
New Orleans is the better team overall, but not good enough to lay the full field goal away from home.
Such is the nature of the NFL, and New Orleans’ offense still has major question marks for me after one week of the Carr era. At +3 or better, I’d bet Carolina at home.
Pick: Panthers +3 or Better
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