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Written by Mitch Wilson on December 17, 2013

Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints Pick, Odds, Prediction 12/22/13: Mitch's Free NFL Football Pick Against the Spread
Photo by: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

The Panthers and the Saints face off on Sunday for first place in the NFC South.

The Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints face off on Sunday in a monster matchup in the NFC South.

The Carolina Panthers are tied for first place in the NFC South but a loss in this one and the Saints win the division. The Panthers lost a few weeks back in New Orleans but losses have been few and far between since starting the season 0-2. Cam Newton has completed 62.3 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and he has rushed for 506 yards and six touchdowns. DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 743 yards to lead the Carolina rushing attack and Mike Tolbert has seen an increased role carrying the football. Greg Olsen has 63 receptions with five touchdowns and Steve Smith has 63 catches and four touchdowns. Luke Keuchly has 122 tackles to lead the Panthers defense, Thomas Davis has 103 tackles, and Captain Munnerlyn is coming off perhaps the best game of his career. The Panthers offense is averaging 23.4 points and 326 yards per while defensively they are allowing 14.9 points and 296.3 yards per game. Carolina has gotten it done with defense and they have been one of the hottest teams in football.

The New Orleans Saints are coming off of a rough loss at St. Louis which put them in a tie for first place in the NFC South but a win on Sunday and they are NFC South Champions. The Saints are just 3-4 on the road this season and are a perfect 7-0 at home. Drew Brees is having another big year completing 68.2 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Pierre Thomas has rushed for 521 yards but he also has 71 receptions while Darren Sproles averages 4.5 yards per carry and he has 66 catches out of the backfield. Jimmy Graham has 76 receptions and 14 touchdowns and Marques Colston has 64 receptions and five touchdowns. Curtis Lofton has 115 tackles to lead the New Orleans defense, David Hawthorne has 84 tackles, and Cameron Jordan has 11.5 sacks. The Saints offense is averaging 25.6 points and 397 yards while defensively they are allowing 19.3 points and 312.8 yards per game. If the Saints drop this one they will be inline for the number two Wildcard spot in the NFC.

Carolina is 6-1 against the spread against the NFC, 7-2-1 against the spread in their last 10 games, and 6-2 against the spread following a win. New Orleans is 25-10 against the spread following a loss, 1-4 against the spread against the NFC, and 0-5 against the spread in their last five road games. The road team is 19-7 against the spread in the last 26 meetings of these two teams.

When it comes to week 16 of the NFL season it is when it is all about the running game and defense and I give the Panthers the edge in both of those. Throw in playing at home and the Panthers are the choice here.

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Mitch's Pick: Carolina Panthers -3


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