The final wild card game for 2018 will be played Sunday, January 7 at 4:40 p.m. E.T. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. The NFC game features the Carolina Panthers (11-5 Overall, 5-3 Away), one of the wild card teams, at the New Orleans (11-5 Overall, 7-1 Home), winners of the South Division. The Panthers come to this game having won three and lost two of their final five games, including a 22-10 last-game loss to the Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans, also 3-2 for their last five games, also losy their final game of the season, bowing to the Tampa Buccaneers 31-24. Our Carolina plays New Orleans 2018 NFC wild card pick currently has the Saints favored by anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 and the over/under ranging from 47.5 to 48.0.
The Panthers come to this wild card game averaging 22.7 PPG. They’re grinding out on average 131 YPG of offense on the ground, which ranks them third in the NFC. Carolina struggles passing, averaging just 192 YPG in the air, which is 28th in the league. Cam Newton (59.1 COMP%, 22 TDs, 16 INTs) is known as a running quarterback who also throws. He can be fairly inaccurate and gets sacked more than one might expect. He’s been down 35 times this season. He is the Panther’s leading rusher and has a 5.4 YPG average and 754 yards on 139 carries. Newton has scored six rushing TDs. RB Jonathan Stewart, who is questionable for tomorrow due to a back issue, has 198 carries for 680 ground yards and six TDs. RB Christian McCaffrey (117 ATT, 435 YDs, 3.7 AVG, 2 TDs) is a dual threat having caught 80 passes for 615 yards and five touchdowns. WR Devin Funchess, who is questionable for Sunday due to a shoulder injury, comes to this game with 840 receiving yards, 63 receptions and eight catches for scores.
The Panthers are holding opponent ground games to 88 YPG (3rd) while pass attacks have been good for 229 YPG (18th). They have done well in allowing just 20.4 PPG, which ties them with New Orleans. The Panthers have record 50 sacks and 17 FF with 11 being recovered. Their picks number just 10 and they have 53 PD, TFL total 54. DEs Mario Addison and Julius Pepper each have 10 sacks. Addison is questionable for tomorrow’s game.
- Passing game is questionable
- Rush attack strong
- Pass D is spotty, but good sack attack
New Orleans Overall
The Saints 28.0 PPG is fourth-best in the NFL, with their passing game good for on average 262 YPG, ranking them fifth. Their rush attack, also ranked fifth with 129 YPG, makes them the leader in yards per game in the NFC with 391. Along with QB Drew Brees (72.0 COMP%, 23 TDs, 8 INTs) ably running the offense and passing often at will, the Saints mount a very fine ground game. Two running backs, veteran Mark Ingram (230 ATT, 1,124 YDs, 4.9 AVG, 12 TDs) and rookie Alvin Kamara (120 ATT, 728 YDs, 6.1 AVG, 8 TDs), offer explosive performances. Ingram also has 58 pass catches for 416 yards and Kamara has caught the ball 81 times for 826 yards and five TDs. WR Michael Thomas, who leads the team with 104 receptions and 1,245 yards, is questionable with a hamstring problem.
New Orleans found a defense this year. For years, D has been their weak point. This season they are 10th in points allowed, averaging 20.4, with their passing defense giving up 225 yards per game (15th) and run defense allowing 118 yards per game (16th). The D has 20 picks, 99 PD, and 19 FF. Additionally, they have made 42 sacks and 52 TFL. Corner Marshon Lattimore leads the team with five picks and 18 PD. Safety Marcus Williams has four interceptions and seven PD. DE Cameron Jordan leads all Saints with 13.0 sacks.
- Brees can still throw
- Great rush attack
- Best D this team has seen in a long time
Three Major Takeaways
In creating our Carolina plays New Orleans 2018 NFC wild card pick, we offer this trio of observations-
- QB edge to Saints
- RB edge to Saints
- Defenses- fairly even
Our Carolina Plays New Orleans 2018 NFC Wild Card Pick
We like the Saints in this game and certainly find favor with them at -6.5. We’re going with New Orleans and that spread. We are also taking the under at 48.0. That’s our final wild card pick!