During a football handicapping seminar at Sunset Station before the season, former NFL Coach of the Year Jim Fassel said to always consider backing a team coming home off a road loss.
Fassel, who also coached the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, reiterated that point Friday.
“A big part of it is if you lose, if you’ve got character on the team and the coach handles it right, guys are going to get excited about playing football in front of their fans and wash out their mouth of that loss,” he said. “Part of it is you read about how you got your ass beat and you didn’t play well. When you’re coming home, you don’t want to read that.
“So you start shaking off the fleas and say, ‘We’ve got to get back on track, we know these guys and we’re playing at home.’ It’s good added motivation.”
The Saints are back at home Sunday as 4½-point favorites over the Panthers after a 26-20 loss at the Los Angeles Rams that snapped New Orleans’ eight-game winning streak.
It’s a huge NFC South showdown between two teams tied atop the division with 8-3 records.
The Saints have covered the past five meetings with Carolina, pounding the Panthers 34-13 in Week 3 to kick-start their streak. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes in the victory, and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw three interceptions.
The Panthers have won four games in a row, but Newton is still off target. The NFL’s 26th-rated passer, Newton completed 11 of 28 passes in Sunday’s 35-27 win over the Jets. Carolina was fortunate to win and cover at New York, where it was helped by fourth-quarter TDs on a fumble return and punt return.
The Panthers won’t be so lucky at the Superdome, where the Saints should bounce back.
Four more plays for Week 13 (home team in CAPS):
Steelers (-4½) over BENGALS: Pittsburgh (9-2) has been inconsistent this season but always can be counted on to beat Cincinnati. The Steelers have won the past five meetings and eight of nine (7-1-1 ATS), including a 29-14 victory Oct. 22 when it held the Bengals to 19 yards in the second half. Pittsburgh, which has exploded for 71 points in its past two games, has covered 16 of its past 20 games at Cincinnati.
CHARGERS (-13½) over Browns: Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in the league, riding a 6-1 ATS streak, and has a lot to play for with the AFC West up for grabs. The Chargers also have the added revenge factor of being the only team to lose to lowly Cleveland since the start of last season. The Browns have covered only one of their past 10 games.
Patriots (-8) over BILLS: New England has held its past seven opponents to 17 points or fewer during its seven-game win streak (6-1 ATS). The Patriots have beaten the Bills five straight times in Buffalo by an average margin of 38-13 and have covered 11 of their past 13 trips to upstate New York. The Bills were blown out by the Saints, 47-10, in their last home game.
Eagles (-5) over SEAHAWKS: Philadelphia is riding a nine-game winning streak and eight-game cover streak. Quarterback Carson Wentz leads the league in TD passes (28), and Philadelphia has the NFL’s No. 3 rushing attack and No. 3 scoring defense (17.4 ppg). The Seahawks’ once-vaunted defense has been wracked by injuries, and their “12th man” also has been missing in action recently, as Seattle has lost its past two home games to the Falcons and Redskins.
Last week: 3-2 against the spread