Super Saints have the power to outscore Panthers
Dome comforts a boost for New Orleans
Sky Sports Action, 9.40pm
New Orleans have refreshed their offence with the dynamic running duo of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara this season and they can bring up a hat-trick of victories over NFC South rivals Carolina.
Both sides stumbled over the regular-season finishing line last week as the Saints lost 31-24 at Tampa Bay but the Panthers, who had a chance to take the divisional crown, were beaten 22-10 in Atlanta.
Carolina can point to tight end Greg Olsen having missed both the teams’ previous meetings but their general performances this season suggest they are likely to be one-and-done in the playoffs.
Quarterback Cam Newton has the potential to play at an elite level but he has not done it often enough this season.
They have two outstanding results on their record, a 31-24 home win over Minnesota in Week 14 and a 33-30 success in New England in Week Four, but their defence is a concern as they face the versatile Saints attack.
New Orleans QB Drew Brees knows he won’t have many more shots at a Super Bowl and he could have a big game against a suspect pass defence.
Whether the Saints will be as effective when they have to leave the Superdome and play on the road is another matter, but they won seven out of eight there in the regular season and the Panthers may find it hard to keep pace with them.
New Orleans -6.5
2pts 20-21 bet365
Venue Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Vegas handicap Carolina +7
Vegas points line 48
Wide receiver Devin Funchess (shoulder) and left tackle Matt Kalil (illness) are hoping to be fit and guard Trai Turner (concussion) needs to be cleared by doctors to return. Reserve quarterback Derek Anderson (illness) is also questionable.
Left tackle Terron Armstead (thigh) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (ankle) are rated questionable but both seem likely to play. Wide receiver Michael Thomas (hamstring), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion), guard Senio Kelemete (knee), cornerback Justin Hardee (foot) and tight end Josh Hill (shoulder) are available.
New Orleans have beaten Carolina twice this season – 34-13 on the road and 31-21 at home.
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