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Thursday Night Football pick: Saints win at Panthers

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Credit: AP / John McCusker

SAINTS (4-5) AT PANTHERS (3-6), 8:25 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4, NFL; Radio: WCBS (880)

Panthers by 3.5; O/U: 52.5

Should the NFL do away with Thursday Night Football?

If you were to ask that question to every player and coach, the guess here is that the majority would say “yes.” But while the short week can take its toll on players’ bodies and coaches’ game-planning, the upside is that it gives teams a quick way to forget about a bad loss the previous week.

That thinking never has applied more than to the Saints and Panthers, who left their home stadiums last Sunday just as stunned as their fans.

New Orleans lost on a blocked extra point that was returned for two points — the first time a team won on such a play in NFL history — and Carolina literally had the game taken away from it when a Kansas City defender wrestled the ball away after a completion to set up a field goal as time expired.

After those types of defeats, you have to think a team can’t wait to get back out there.

For Carolina, though, it might be tougher. The Panthers blew a 17-point lead at home to the Chiefs. A win last week and they’d be in position to get back to .500. Carolina’s playoff chances are all but done, and you have to wonder if it will be up for this game after such a crushing defeat.

Despite last week’s loss, a Saints win pulls them within a game of the idle Falcons in the NFC South race. That gives them the edge in the motivation department.

This is a rematch of a Week 6 shootout at New Orleans, when the Saints jumped out to a 21-0 lead. They won on a 52-yard field goal with 11 seconds left after the Panthers had stormed back to tie it at 38.

Drew Brees was 34-for-49 for 465 yards and four touchdowns in that game. Expect another big performance against a Panthers secondary that can’t stop the long ball. Brandin Cooks, who had an 87-yard touchdown catch in the first meeting, could be in for another big night. The Panthers have allowed eight catches of 40-plus yards and 27 of 20-plus yards.

Brees will make more plays than Cam Newton in what should be another fun game. Give me the Saints to win outright.

The pick: Saints





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