TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 8, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Weather: High 73, Low 49
Line: New Orleans (-3.5)
As the hottest team in the league, the Carolina Panthers are looking to make waves in the league this season and improbably make a run at a Super Bowl. Cam Newton has been playing great this season and people are starting to talk about the MVP award being a possibility for the quarterback. Newton has passed for 2,616 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for another 447 yards and six scores. Veteran wide out Steve Smith has emerged as the team’s top target, catching 54 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns while tight end Greg Olsen is close behind with 50 catches for 611 yards and five touchdowns. DeAngelo Williams leads the ninth-best rushing offense with 610 yards and two touchdowns.
The New Orleans Saints have had a successful year thus far — especially compared to the year they had in 2012 — but a recent blowout loss to one of the NFL‘s best teams in the Seattle Seahawks may have set them back a bit. Drew Brees is having a typical Brees-type of season, passing for 3,794 yards and 29 touchdowns for the third-best passing offense in the league. Brees’ favorite target has been Jimmy Graham who has been the best tight end in the league, catching 68 passes for 988 yards and an unprecedented 12 touchdowns with four games remaining. Pierre Thomas leads the 23rd-ranked rushing attack with just 486 yards and one measly touchdown.
Defensively, Carolina has had one of the best units in the NFL. The Panthers have shut teams down in recent weeks, ranking first in points allowed, second in total yards allowed, sixth in passing yards allowed and second in rushing yards allowed per game. New Orleans is a top-10 defensive team as well, ranking sixth in points allowed, eighth in total yards allowed and fourth in passing yards allowed per contest.
PREDICTION: Panthers 27, Saints 31
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.