NEW ORLEANS over Carolina
Same-season rematches in the NFL playoffs aren’t rare. They just aren’t all that profitable (90-79-4 ATS since 1990). It’s noteworthy in this contest, though, as the Saints took the Panthers behind the woodshed twice this season. Still, Carolina is 5-2 SUATS as an underdog this season, and the Panthers are 4-0 SUATS in playoff games against foes coming off a loss. The problem is Superman (re: Cam Newton) has been overdosing on too much kryptonite of late as the black cats have been outgained in 5 of their last 6 games. In addition, Carolina finds itself in a similar role to Buffalo in that away teams in the NFL playoffs, following a season-ending away game, tend to struggle in opening-round games. That’s confirmed by a dismal 22-55 SU and 24-48-4 ATS mark since 1980. The question is can the Saints, who are 6-1 SUATS versus .600 or greater opponents this season, take advantage as they, too, are stumbling at the finish line. Since its 8-game win streak from the end of September to late November, New Orleans is just 3-3 SU, as well as 2-4 ATS and ITS, in its last 6 games. Looking inside the stats in this game – as we like to do each week in the MIDWEEK ALERT – Carolina was outyarded by -35 net YPG during the second half of the season, while New Orleans was also outgained during the final six games of the campaign. With no major edges either way, we’ll lean to the double-avenging division dog with the better defense.
SUNDAY - JANUARY 7 4:40 PM ET - FOX TV OPENING LINES: NEW ORLEANS -5.5 / 48