The Carolina Panthers visit the New Orleans Saints Sunday night as the hottest team in football, owning an 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS record over their last eight games.
But despite Carolina's hot streak, the Panthers are a 3.5-point road underdog facing one of the league's toughest home teams. And they are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games as underdogs.
Carolina's hot streak has stemmed in large part from the team's fantastic play on defense. The Panthers rank best in the league in scoring defense allowing just 13.1 points per game and second to only the Seattle Seahawks in total yardage allowed surrendering 289.8 yards per game.
Cam Newton has been effective in leading the offense as well, but the team's elite play on defense is what has separated it from the pack.
The New Orleans Saints received a sharp dose of humility Monday night on the road against the Seahawks, getting blown out 34-7. With the loss, New Orleans fell to 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS on the road this season based on closing lines at Top Bet sportsbook.
At home, the Saints are a completely different beast, going a perfect 6-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS so far this year. Dating back to the start of 2011, the Saints are 18-3 SU and 17-3-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Interestingly enough, the last team to beat New Orleans as a road underdog was Carolina. Carolina swept the season series 2-0 SU and ATS against New Orleans last year after going 0-6 SU and 3-3 ATS in their previous six games against the Saints.
Over the past decade, betting on the Saints at home to Carolina has been a monetary disaster. Carolina is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 games when playing at New Orleans, according to the Panthers-Saints betting preview.
At its core, this matchup is an offense vs. defense showdown, with one of the league's top offenses squaring off against one of the league's best defenses. New Orleans' advantage at home cannot be overstated, and it may end up being the deciding factor in this game.
But after being completely shut down by Seattle on Monday night, the Saints look vulnerable to being beaten by a great defensive team, and Carolina certainly fits that bill.
PICK: Carolina +3.5 | Computer Prediction: 29-25 Carolina