September 18, 2023
SuperBook Sports previews tonight’s doubleheader
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are going to have some growing pains with Bryce Young at quarterback. That was evident in Week 1.
The No. 1 overall pick could be a great player in this league one day, but these things take time. Against the Falcons, Young threw two interceptions and completed just 20-of-38 passes for 146 yards.
It’s not like Young has a ton of weapons. Carolina had to trade D.J. Moore for the rights to draft the QB, and their remaining wide receiver core is fairly anonymous. The Panthers leading pass-catcher was tight end Hayden Hurst with just 41 yards. He did have a touchdown, Carolina’s only on the day.
And this Saints defense is no joke. They held the Titans to just 15 points in their opener, with all of them coming on field goals. Tennessee didn’t find the end zone even once, and New Orleans did enough on offense to escape with a 16-15 win. They picked off Ryan Tannehill three times and sacked him three times, as well. The task will be very tough for Young to hang points on the scoreboard.
New QB Derek Carr was pretty good in his New Orleans debut, throwing for more than 300 yards and a touchdown. He has obvious chemistry with Chris Olave, as the former Ohio State star had eight catches for 112 yards. It was good to see Michael Thomas get back in the fold, as well, catching five passes for 61 yards.
One of these two teams projects to win the NFC South. The other could be looking at a top-five pick as the rebuild in Carolina is going to take a few years. It’s a pivotal division contest early in the season, as the Saints look to create distance from the Panthers and move to 2-0, dropping their opponent to 0-2.
Steve Quinne’s Pick: New Orleans Saints -3.0 (-110)
How does Carolina manage to score in this game? If New Orleans was able to do what they were able to do against a veteran like Tannehill, Young could have a really long night. And the Panthers gave up 130 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in Week 1, so it could be a big evening for Saints running back Jamaal Williams. Alvin Kamara is still suspended, but it shouldn’t matter. The Saints will win a relatively ugly game thanks to their great defense and solid running game, leaving Carolina with a perfect record after a 21-6 win.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
These two teams were on the opposite ends of two of the most lopsided games in Week 1. The Browns stunned everyone, holding the vaunted Bengals offense to just three points in a 24-3 win. Joe Burrow signed a fancy new deal and managed to throw for only 82 yards. This Cleveland defense is completely legit, and they put the rest of the NFL on notice with an awesome performance.
Meanwhile, the 49ers had no problem with the early kickoff in Pittsburgh, hanging 30 points on the Steelers and winning a laugher, 30-7. Kenny Pickett threw two interceptions, Najee Harris had just six carries and Mike Tomlin’s group gained 41 yards on the ground. It was an ugly offensive performance for a team that many thought could be a dark horse in the AFC.
And it’s not like Pittsburgh’s defense did its part. Christian McCaffrey absolutely tore them up, going for 152 yards on the ground and scoring a long touchdown. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry. Brandon Aiyuk also caught eight passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper have to be licking their chops watching this film, although Cooper did pop up on Cleveland’s injury report on Saturday.
This is a fascinating AFC North game early on, as all four teams have been mentioned as possible division champions. The Steelers can’t afford to go to 0-2, losing two home games to start the season. History is not kind to those teams when it comes to making the playoffs. And the Browns getting to 2-0 would be big, showing everyone they’re not just a threat to win the division, but maybe even make noise in the conference as well.
Steve Quinne’s Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers M/L (+110)
Despite the two totally different feelings after their Week 1 contests, this a week-to-week league. Tomlin has never finished under .500, so he’s not going to dig his team too deep of a hole. The Steelers had a tough draw to open things up, as the Niners look every bit like a Super Bowl contender. They’ll find a way to get Harris way more involved early and often and ride him to a victory. Meanwhile, the Browns received a lot of positive headlines after blasting the Bengals, and rightfully so, but it’s not like Deshaun Watson had a big game. He threw for just 154 yards and also tossed an interception. T.J. Watt had three sacks against San Francisco and a fumble recovery. He’ll be waiting.
This game will be a reminder the Steelers are still the Steelers and the Browns are still the Browns. Take Pittsburgh with the juice at home, as this line is way too inflated based on just one week of action.