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NFL Trap Game of Week 3 – Saints vs Panthers

Beware of Division Road Matchup

The New Orleans Saints will take on a third NFC South opponent in as many weeks when they descend on Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C..

The Saints are 1-1 and coming off a brutal home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and yet they’re the field goal favorites against the Carolina Panthers. That’s in part down to the fact that the Panthers are winless after two weeks.

Baker Mayfield #6
Baker Mayfield #6 | Rich schultz/getty images/afp

So, why is this a potential trap game to beware of? Read on for the Saints vs Panthers game preview and NFL predictions below, including the latest stats, injury reports and NFL odds before we round out with the choice NFL picks for your consideration.

Saints vs Panthers Betting Preview

Saints vs Panthers Odds

  • Spread: Saints -3 (EV)
  • Moneyline: Saints -155 | Panthers +135
  • Over/Under: O40½ (-110) | U40½ (-110)

Saints Overrated?

To begin with, the New Orleans Saints might be a little bit overrated by the NFL betting markets ahead of this game. Yes, they’re 1-1 but they’re 0-2-0 ATS after failing to cover as the -3½ road chalk in a 27-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 and coming up well short in a 20-10 defeat to the Buccaneers in Week 2 as the +2½ home underdogs.

The Saints were on the back foot against the Falcons and down 16 points going into the fourth quarter. They rallied to take the initiative and the 27-26 lead in the final minutes, but a missed game-winning field goal by the Falcons delivered the dubious win.

Against the Buccaneers, the Saints defense got off to a solid start and held them to just a field goal. However, the wheels came undone as tensions escalated between the players. It all came to a head when Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans got into a fracas with Marshon Lattimore, resulting in both players getting ejected from the game.

The Saints never quite got their equilibrium back and the Bucs capitalized in a big way. Jameis Winston’s three interceptions didn’t help matters either, though he’s dealing with a fractured back and that might be affecting his play.

Panthers Desperate For Win

Baker Mayfield’s second chance as a starter isn’t going well as the Panthers slipped to an 0-2 start. To add insult to injury, his debut was marred by a loss in his so-called “revenge” game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. A loss to the New York Giants on the road in Week 2 added to his woes.

That said, both games were narrow losses decided by five points combined. The Carolina Panthers lost to the Browns 26-24 at home, failing to come through as the -1½ home chalk. They lost to the Giants 19-16, once again failing to come through as -1½ road favorites.

Matt Rhule is truly on the hot seat. If he doesn’t figure out a way to turn this team around and get the Panthers back on track, he could be up for the sack sooner than later.

The good news is that it’s early in the season. There’s still all to play for and lots of time for Carolina to recover.

Saints vs Panthers Prediction

Two weeks is a small sample size to work with at the start of the season, so it’s reasonable to assume that the NFL betting markets don’t always get it right and things aren’t as they seem.

The Saints are banged up and Winston is a big question mark for this game, even if he does start. The New Orleans defense is a solid unit, but they can’t do it all. And it doesn’t help their cause when the offense is unpredictable and prone to turnovers that can sink their chances. For these reasons alone, laying a field goal with the Saints feels risky for NFL picks against the spread.

It’s also worth noting that the Saints could be distracted by their upcoming trip to London in Week 4 when they kick off the NFL’s international series against the Minnesota Vikings in London.

On the flip side, the Mayfield-led Panthers aren’t inspiring much confidence among critics. Their fans are getting frustrated, too. But if there’s one thing the Panthers can hang their hats on, it’s that both their losses were narrow and, perhaps, unlucky even

It’s a bold bet to back the Panthers, but as the three-point home underdogs, they certainly could come up with the cover in a close divisional game that could go either way. As they keep telling us, they’re close to winning.