SAINTS (4-5) at PANTHERS (3-6)
Line: CAR by 3 1/2.
Cote’s pick: CAR 34-31.
TV: 8:25 p.m. Thursday, NBC/NFLN (airing in South Florida).
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Looks like a great TV game to kick off Week 11, an NFC South grudge between two teams with little margin for error left in terms of playoff hopes. The desperation for both was accentuated when turnovers led to narrow losses for each last week. New Orleans beat Carolina 41-38 in Week 6 on the wing of 465 yards and four TDs by Drew Brees, and I’d expect another points-fest. The combination of Brees and a shaky N’Awlins defense all but guarantees shootouts. In fact Saints games are averaging 58.7 points; only Falcons games (60.3) are higher scoring. The Panthers, though, had won three in a row in the series before that Week 6 loss, and have won three of the past four at home over the Saints. So I’ll make this a venue pick but grab that dangling half-point on the betting line to take Brees against the spread.