5 Reasons The Saints Will Beat/Lose To The Panthers
The New Orleans Saints return to action this Sunday, and it’s time to take a look at five reasons why they will win, and five reasons why they will lose.
The Saints, who are currently 1-3 on the year, will play host to the 1-4 Carolina Panthers, in an NFC South Division showdown at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
Kickoff time is scheduled for noon.
5 Reasons The Saints Will Win:
1)—Drew Brees going up against Panthers secondary: Brees leads the NFL in passing yards-per-game, averaging 304.0, and will be going up against a Carolina defense that ranks 17th, in terms of passing yards allowed, giving up 246 pass yards a game. Granted, Atlanta's passing attack has shredded most defenses this year, but the Falcons passed for 503 yards against the Panthers just two weeks ago. The Panthers' decision to let Josh Norman walk away without any return was a major blunder, and their secondary is now one of the worst in the NFL.
2)—Panthers have been in a giving mood: Carolina has turned over the ball a lot this year, with 9 interceptions and 5 fumbles, for 14 giveaways, compared to only 7 takeaways. The Saints only have on interception this year, and that was in mop-up time in the game against the Chargers, but they're only -1 in turnover margin. The team that wins the turnover battle normally wins, and going in, you kind of like the Saints' chances.
3)—Carolina defensive line not what it once was: Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 101 yards on 30 carries against the Carolina defense on Monday night. CAW CAT!!!...Jacquizz Rodgers!!!...who had never rushed for more than 32 yards in a game in his 6year career! The Panthers’ defense is simply not good right now. It's really Luke Kuechly and nothing else.
4)—October: Sunday will mark the second game of October for the Saints, which is big, considering the Saints have lost 7-consecutive September games, dating back to 2014, while fairing pretty well in October. They’ve also gone 1-9 over their last 10 games in September. On the other hand, the Saints have been pretty good in October, going 10-3 over the last three seasons, including a 4-1 October record a season ago, after an 0-3 start. Add in the fact that the Saints have had rest due to the bye week, and that the Panthers are playing on a short week, and one has to like the Saints' chances.
5)—Lack of downfield receiving threats out of backfield for Carolina: The Saints, because of their deficiencies at linebacker and safety, are really vulnerable against teams that have backs that can get down the field and catch the ball, such as the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers don't really have that threat. especially with Jonathan Stewart injured. Stewart could possibly play, but he's coming off of an injury, and a hamstring injury at that. so I wouldn't expect him to be streaking downfield much, even if he does play. Fozzy Whittaker has 19 receptions, but is really only a safety valve type of guy, averaging only 7.8 yards-per-catch for his career.
5 Reason the Saints Won’t Win:
1)—Injuries: Sure, every team suffers their share of injuries, but the Saints have had more than their share. Most of the year, they've been without the services of defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerbacks Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams, while offensive lineman Terron Armstead has missed the last two games. Ellerbe and Armstead are still questionable for Sunday, and that could be big, especially Armstead. The bottom line is they just aren’t deep or talented enough to withstand too many injuries.
2)—Carolina offense: For all of their early season struggles, the Panthers have still moved the ball, averaging 392.0 yards-per-game, which ranks third in the NFL. And that's with Cam Newton missing a game. Newton is the reigning MVP, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Newton, who is on target to play on Sunday, is due to have a 2016 breakout game.
3)—Greg Olsen: Again, the Saints have had less than stellar play at linebacker and safety in recent years, and opposing tight ends have torched them at times because of it. Olsen is a good one, and is a match-up nightmare for the Saints. This season, Olsen already has 33 catches for 516 yards, and that's after catching 69, 73, 84, 77 passes from 2012-2015, respectively. In two games against the Saints last season, Olsen compiled 17 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Yikes!
4)—Luke Kuechly: No, the Panthers' defense has not been good, but Kuechly remains one of the best. So far in 2016, he has been all over the field, compiling 57 tackles, which ranks second in the league. This is the one guy that really scares you on their defense. He's going to make plays. The Saints just have to make sure he doesn't come up with a big interception, or cause a fumble, which could be the different in the game.
5)—Not fairing well against the Panthers: The Saints have lost 3-straight to the Panthers, including 4 of the last 5, and 6 of the last 8. Most of the games have been close, including the two last year, a season in which Carolina went 15-1. In 2016, the Saints lost their first game to the Panthers, 27-22, with Luke McCown starting on the road, before falling 41-38 in the last contest between the two last December. So, it's not like Carolina has completely dominated New Orleans, but recent history does indicate that they have their number.