Key Matchups for Panthers vs. Saints

This will be the second game for the Panthers in five weeks against the Saints. Last time these two faced off, the Saints came away victorious by a score of 28-10. If the Panthers hope to get a win on the road, these are three key matchups that they will have to win.

Saints Defensive Ends vs. Panthers Offensive Tackles

The Saints two defensive ends, Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette, had strong games against the Panthers in Week 9. These two players combined for eight tackles and sacked Cam Newton three times. The Saints defense has struggled this year but these are two defensive ends that can get after the quarterback. Entering this weekend’s match-up, Jordan has six sacks and Galette has seven.

The Panthers though will have two new tackles to try and slow down the Saints pass rush. Left tackle Byron Bell missed this game a few weeks ago and was replaced by David Foucault, which didn’t go well for Newton or the Panthers offense. On the other side of the line, Nate Chandler was starting but he has since ended up on the IR and was replaced by Mike Remmers. This game will be a good test for Remmers, who is coming off a strong game against Minnesota. A strong performance from the two offensive tackles would go a long way to help the Panthers offense try to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints.


Mark Ingram vs. Panthers Defensive Front Seven

One of the big surprises from the Panthers and Saints first match-up was how heavily they relied on running back Mark Ingram. The former Heisman Trophy winner finished the game with 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns but it took him 30 attempts to get that production. This game was the last time Ingram has scored a touchdown but he is averaging 84 yards per game over the past four games.

The Panthers defensive front will need to have another strong game like they did against New Orleans. Yes, they gave up 100 rushing yards but Ingram only averaged 3.3 yards per carry to get that 100 yards.

 Pro Football Focus gave the Panthers defense a cumulative rating of 6.2 for their run defense against the Saints. Linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly combined for 4.4 of that 6.2 and the Panthers will need a similar performance from their top linebackers in hopes of containing Ingram.


Kelvin Benjamin vs. Keenan Lewis

This will be Kelvin Benjamin’s chance to show Week 9 was a fluke when he faces off against Saints’ cornerback Keenan Lewis. The first time they met, Lewis won the battle and kept the rising rookie in check. Benjamin finished the game with only two receptions for 18 yards on 10 targets.

That game against New Orleans has been one of a few low lights in what has been a rather impressive rookie year. Benjamin is near the top among rookies in almost every statistical category for wide receivers and is on pace to surpass 75 receptions, 1000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. If he meets these marks, he would have to be considered one of the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

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