Saints Defense Concerns Panthers

<P>Chris Weinke had better fasten his chin strap for a long day Sunday. The Saints defensive line so dominated Carolina a year ago, that should the revamped offensive line cut their sacks allowed in half, Weinke would only go down four times.

That's right, in each of the two meetings of 2000, the Saints put 8 sacks on the board. Joe Johnson and La'Roi Glover had half of the 16 total sacks between them.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Panthers rushed for a grand total of 63 yards in the two games...just 10 of those in the first. Saints running back Ricky Williams totalled 237 himself on the ground before leaving the second game with a broken ankle.

As you look at the Saints of 2001, if there is a weakness in the Saints defense would be their run defense, they're ranked 17th in the league. If that were only good news for the Panthers. Despite a revamped offensive line (due in large part to the domination the Saints held over them in 2000) they still have virtually no running game...being ranked 30th.

So, now you see why many consider the Panthers mission this week a nearly impossible one.

If this is an ugly game, it would fit right into the history of these two teams. They've split their 12 games, each team is 4-2 at home. Yet, only three of the games they've played have been decided by less than a touchdown.

Two of the Panther wins have come in, what turned out to be the final game, for two Saints head coaches. Jim Mora imploded following a 19-7 loss at Ericsson Stadium in 1996, and Mike Ditka was fired after the Panthers closed out the 1999 season with a 45-13 win when they spent as much time watching the scoreboard (to try and outscore Green Bay to win a potential playoff tie-breaker) as they did worrying about the Saints.

Jim Haslett, on the other hand, had the Panthers number in his first season. The 16 total points the Panthers scored in the two games were fewer than they had scored in 6 of the 10 individual preceeding contests.

From the Panthers' standpoint, they're hoping they can turn the momenteum back around in this series as quickly as the Saints did.

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