NFL Week 17 odds: Carolina at New Orleans

Two teams that had playoff expectations play out the string Sunday in New Orleans as the Saints host the Panthers.

The Panthers continued their late-season surge with a 17-6 win over Oakland last week. – Cam Newton threw for 170 yards with a touchdown and also ran for a score. Steve Smith had four catches for 45 yards and a score and Greg Olsen hauled in six passes for 53 yards for the Panthers (6-9), who have won three straight and four of their last five. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly had nine solo tackles and an interception that led to a score in the triumph.

New Orleans beat Dallas 34-31 in overtime. – Garrett Hartley drilled a 20-yard field goal to win it. Drew Brees completed 37- of-53 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns for the Saints (7-8), who have won two straight. Marques Colston finished with 153 yards on 10 receptions, while Darren Sproles added 104 yards on seven catches to go along with 48 yards on nine carries.

The Saints are like a fast-break basketball team in that they score a lot of points in order to win games because their defense is statistically the worst in the NFL. Carolina lacks the same kind of offensive prowess and needs to sustain drives and produce points on as many possessions as possible. Look for a lot of option reads mixed in with a high-percentage passing attack in third-down situations for Carolina. Newton needs to convert on at least 45-50 percent of his third-down opportunities for the Panthers to have a chance.

Back on Sept. 16 Carolina beat New Orleans 35-27, with Newton throwing and rushing for a TD.

WAGERWEB.COM OPENING ODDS: Saints -5.5 (54) Check our current lines.

PANTHERS NOTES: Aim for 4th win in row. In past 6, QB CAM NEWTON has passed for 11 TDs, 1 INT & 104.2 rating. Is only player with 30+ pass (40) & 20+ rush (22) TDs in 1st 2 NFL seasons. In last meeting, had 129.2 rating & 2 TDs (1 pass, 1 rush) … RB DEANGELO WILLIAMS has 5 rush TDs in past 5 meetings. Has rushed for 650 yards (108.3 per game) in past 6 meetings … WR STEVE SMITH has 22 catches for 331 yards (82.8 per game) & 3 TDs in past 4. Has 1,101 yards, his 7th 1,000-yard season. Aims for 4th in row vs. NO with 100+ yards or TD. WR BRANDON LAFELL has 8 career rec. TDs & avg. 26.5 yards per TD (212 yards). TE GREG OLSEN has 4 TDs in past 7 … S CHARLES GODFREY had INT-TD in last meeting. CB CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN ties for 3rd in NFL with 2 INT-TDs. DE CHARLES JOHNSON has 27.5 sacks in past 37. Has 10.5 sacks in past 12. DE GREG HARDY has 9 sacks in past 9. Rookie LB LUKE KUECHLY leads team with 152 tackles. Had 2nd career INT last week.

SAINTS NOTES: QB DREW BREES had 446 yards & 3 TDs last week. Has 4,781 pass yards & is 1st in NFL history with 3 consecutive 4,500-yard seasons. His 14,877 pass yards are most in any 3-year span in NFL history. Needs 219 yards to be 1st in NFL history with 3 5,000-yard seasons. In last meeting at home, passed for 389 yards & 5 TDs … Since 2011, RB DARREN SPROLES leads NFL RBs with 153 catches & 13 rec. TDs. RB CHRIS IVORY rushed for 127 yards & TD in last home meeting. RB MARK INGRAM aims for 3rd in row vs. Car. with rush TD … Since 2010, TE JIMMY GRAHAM leads NFC TEs with 27 TDs (incl. playoffs). Aims for 3rd in row vs. Car. with TD. WR MARQUES COLSTON had 7 catches for 145 yards & 2 TDs in last home game vs. Car. WR JOSEPH MORGAN avg. 41.2 yards per catch (9 catches, 371 yards, 3 TDs) … Since 2006, S ROMAN HARPER has 18.5 sacks, most by DB (incl. playoffs). DE CAMERON JORDAN leads team with career-high 8 sacks. Saints have 2 players with 100+ tackles: LB CURTIS LOFTON (118) & Harper (109). CB JABARI GREER had 24-yard INT-TD in 11/7/10 meeting.

WAGERWEB.COM TRENDS: Panthers are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings in New Orleans. Panthers are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 meetings. Under is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings. Road team is 17-5 ATS in their last 22 meetings.

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