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Round 3 - Saints vs. Panthers
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The Winner of Panthers-Saints Demands Your Attention

There’s a reason that the Pathers-Saints were booked as the late game on Sunday afternoon. It’s easily the best matchup of the entire Wild Card weekend, and perhaps the most fascinating from a long term point of view.

After all, the winner of this game essentially has a straight line to the NFC Championship that rolls through Philadelphia.

Odds per

Carolina Panthers (11-5) vs. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
Wild Card Betting Line: New Orleans -7.0 (48.5)

To explain this line, all you need to do is look at the in-season history of this rivalry. The Saints blew the Panthers out 34-13 as +5.0 road dogs and 31-21 as -5.5 home favorites. We can’t talk about this game without addressing that the possibility of Cam Newton putting this team on his shoulders is always in play, and I’ll address why the Panthers aren’t exactly a great play later in the week. For the sake of argument, let’s just say that the Saints go 3-0 SU and ATS against their division rival this weekend.

As stated, the major benefit for the winner of this game is that they get to feast on Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. To say that the Eagles are sunk is an understatement, and just goes to show how awesome Carson Wentz is. The team is good but not great, and they’re certainly not overwhelmingly talented enough to shelter Foles. He needs to have the game of his career in order to beat the Saints or Panthers, and it’s not happening. Not when stakes are this high.

Which guides us down an interesting pathway. If we believe that the winner of Panthers-Saints is going to steamroll right through Liberty Bell city, then they’re in line to (probably) play the Los Angeles Rams or the Vikings. And both of those are winnable games because Drew Brees has frankly never been on a better team than this one. That’s why the odds for the Saints winning the Super Bowl are better than almost everyone else’s.

Odds to Win Super Bowl LII (NFC Teams)
Minnesota Vikings +400
Los Angeles Rams +1000
New Orleans Saints +1000
Philadelphia Eagles +1200
Atlanta Falcons +2000
Carolina Panthers +2500

Before you go slamming money on the Saints to overcome the Steelers or Patriots in Super Bowl LII, let’s look elsewhere for some really good value. And there’s no better long bet than the Saints at +450 to win the NFC. For what it’s worth, the Panthers are valued at +1200 while the Vikings are a stern +165.

You can easily talk yourself in to the Vikings as the best team to bank on heading in to the NFC side of the playoffs. They have perhaps the best defence in the whole league, and multiple weapons with arguably the best wide receiver duo left. But they’re by no mean infallible.

The Saints were the second best offensive team in the league with 391.2 yards per game (2nd) and 28.0 points (4th). Drew Brees is surrounded by a strong running game led by Ingram and Kamara, while the passing game continues to churn along at elite levels without having to be the only source of offence for once. When talking about NFL betting, you always have to find really strong value and to me there’s no better play on the board than the New Orleans Saints as a volatile threat to dethrone both the Vikings and the Patriots in these upcoming playoffs.

All they have to do is get past Cam Newton and the road to Minneapolis gets a lot easier than you’d think.

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