Saints Panthers Preview

This week the New Orleans Saints (3-4) host NFC South Division leaders the Carolina Panthers (5-1). The Panthers are coming off of their first loss of the season while the Saints are riding high on a two game winning streak heading into this game.

The Panthers need to win this game to keep pressure on the other teams in the division that currently trail them while the Saints need to keep their winning streak alive and rack up some wins over divisional teas in the coming weeks. This could be a huge game for both teams as the Saints would like very much to get back to 500 against a quality team. The Panthers, meanwhile, need to get back on track in order to put last weeks loss to rest. Doing so against their rivals the Saints is a good way to do that.

Conference Rankings

Passing: New Orleans (13) Carolina (29)
Rushing: New Orleans (14) Carolina (2)
Scoring: New Orleans (13) Carolina (16)

Passing: New Orleans (7) Carolina (24)
Rushing: New Orleans (23) Carolina(15)
Scoring: New Orleans (13) Carolina (14)

When the Saints have the ball:

The Panthers have a reputation of being a very strong defensive team. Their rankings, however, are not so good. They are a very good defensive team but not one without flaws. Coach John Fox's schemes have allowed him to put players in situations that maximize their talent. They are still vulnerable to big plays though, as evidenced by Deuce McAllister's big catch in the teams first meeting. A catch which Fox named as possibly the play of the last game. With Brooks, Horn, and McAlister all coming off of very good games expect the Saints to continue to open up their offense to put points on the board early and often.

Defensively the Panthers will be playing hurt as several of their defensive players are currently listed as questionable for the game, including starters, Mike Minter(back), Dan Morgan(concussion), and Brentson Buckner(hip.) Shane Burton, Brian Allen, and Karl Hankton are also listed as questionable on the Panthers defense. With Donte Stallworth and Ernie Conwell likely to miss the game and play hurt respectively the Panthers should focus on stopping Deuce McAllister. Taking away the Saints rushing attack will leave them with only Joe Horn as a big play option and will also leave Aaron Brooks vulnerable to Carolina's pass rush. The Saints offensive line must pass block better than they did last week.

When the Panthers have the ball:

Running on the Saints can be done, and with Stephen Davis being Carolinas best offensive weapon expect lots of smasmouth football. DeShaun Foster has looked good when he's played recently and Steve Smith continumes to put up good numbers at WR. Former Saint Jake Delhomme will need to play mistake free football, somehing that is much easier when Stephen Davis is gaining yards on the ground.

Prediction: A very fast game with lots of rushing yards. The Saints are on a roll and the Panthers are likely not as good as their record indicates. One big play should be enough to clinch it for the Saints. New Orleans wins at home 24-20.

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