The New Orleans Saints face the Carolina Panthers in a tense divisional matchup in Week 17. All the experts are on NOLA’s side, but this game won’t be pretty.
The Miami Dolphins game was one the Saints could afford to lose.
Week 17’s Panthers game? Not so much.
In a game that has crucial divisional implications, the Saints will need to slap together whatever is left of their offense and find a way to get points on the scoreboard.
Their quarterback roulette of Hill, Siemian, and Book has so far paid zero dividends, but the only team that might be having it worse than New Orleans at quarterback is, in fact, the Carolina Panthers.
Their rivals have two far worse choices: the ever turnover-prone Sam Darnold or the dinosaur-armed Cam Newton.
The Saints, despite their recent sluggishness, are the 7-point favorites heading into Week 17 — which is more telling of Carolina’s form than that of the Saints.
The Panthers have been outscored 63-20 over the last two weeks. Could the Saints keep the blows coming?
Here’s what the experts have to say about Week 17:
Expert picks for New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
- Alex Buck (Pro Football Network) – Saints 24, Panthers 10
- Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) – Saints 24, Panthers 16
- Gary Davenport (Bleacher Report) – Saints 27, Panthers 7
- Sam Farmer (LA Times) – Saints 21, Panthers 13
Why are so may experts predicting the New Orleans Saints will score at least three touchdowns? It baffles us.
NOLA has scored fewer than 10 points in three of their last five games, and anyone watching their games must know how god-awful their offensive efficiency was.
Blake Gilikin is currently the man of the match, every match, simply because of how often he punts and how he gets his team excellent field position. Not that NOLA can do much with it.
In any case, the picks heavily favor the Saints by one or two scores.
Prisco of CBS Sports states his reasoning for why the Saints can bounce back from Week 16’s loss:
"The Saints have been crippled by COVID, which is why they had almost no chance against Miami on Monday night. But they should be getting a lot of guys back here against a Carolina team that isn’t very good. Carolina’s offensive line is bad, while the Saints’ front is good. That’s a combination that will lead to a Saints’ victory with a few big takeaways."
Davenport of Bleacher Report also rips apart the Panthers while lauding the Saints defense:
"This one is less about confidence in the Saints than a complete lack of any in the Panthers. Carolina has completely fallen apart offensively, and given how well the Saints are playing on defense, it’s hard to see where even 10 points are coming from. Provided that New Orleans gets one of its actual NFL quarterbacks (complimenting Trevor Siemian, that’s what 2021 has reduced us to) back, New Orleans should cruise to a double-digit victory in this one."
The Saints’ quarterback dilemma continues with Sean Payton yet to choose the starter among Hill, Siemian, and Book.
But Carolina’s O-line truly may be one of the worst in the league, and with pass-rushers Marcus Davenport and Cam Jordan on a tear in recent weeks, Darnold should be ready to hit the ground.
This game shouldn’t come down to Brett Maher and the Saints defense, like so many have before. Still, watching the Saints play football in 2021 ain’t pretty.