Divisional rivals close out Wild-Card weekend when the Saints and Panthers clash at Superdome Sunday afternoon (4:40 pm ET, Fox). New Orleans swept the season series from Carolina, and is favored by a touchdown here. Who are we going with for our free NFL playoff pick?
Most of the NFL playoff betting odds opened New Orleans at -6, with a total of right around 49. Since then most books bumped the Saints to -7 and dipped the total to 48.
The Panthers could also be bet getting upwards of +250 to win this game outright on the moneyline.
NFC Wild-Card Match-Up
Carolina (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) started 4-1 this season, with wins over Buffalo and New England. The Panthers then lost two straight, including a stinker against Chicago, but then won seven of their next eight, including victories over Atlanta and Minnesota. Then, with a chance to win the NFC South, Carolina lost its season finale to the Falcons last week 22-10.
Nonetheless the Panthers are back in the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Carolina is 4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS against teams that made the playoffs this year.
New Orleans (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS), meanwhile, started 0-2 this season, with losses to the Vikings and Patriots, then won eight games in a row, including victories over the Panthers and Bills. The Saints then lost two of three, won two straight, but lost last week at Tampa 31-24. However, New Orleans backed into the NFC South title when Carolina lost to Atlanta.
So the Saints are back in the playoffs following a three-season absence.
New Orleans is 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS against playoff qualifiers this year.
Carolina had taken four of the previous five meetings between these teams coming into this season, but the Saints swept the series from the Panthers, winning by scores of 34-13 and 31-21. New Orleans outgained Carolina in those two games by an average margin of 381-284.
Also, that first meeting pushed a total of 47, while the second game sneaked over a total of 48.
Overs are 9-7 in Panthers games this season, which are averaging 43 points.
Overs are also 9-7 in Saints games, which are averaging 48 points.
Free NFL Wild-Card Picks
New Orleans swept the season series, but that doesn’t mean anything now; these teams go back further and deeper than that. Ultimately, seven points seems like a lot for an intense divisional rivalry. Also, both underdogs not only covered Saturday’s wild-card games, they won ’em outright. We’re taking the points here with Carolina.