Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints

It’s rivalry week as the Carolina Panthers (3-3) get set to travel to New Orleans to battle with NFC South foe, the Saints (3-2). Carolina is looking to bounce back after seeing their three-game winning streak come to an end this past Sunday in a 23-16 loss to Chicago. The Saints are fresh off a bye week and are looking to keep pace atop the division standings. 

Today, we take a deep dive into the numbers and see which team has an advantage ahead of this Sunday’s showdown.

When the Saints have the ball:

Saints Offense

Stats

Panthers Defense

Total Net Yards Per Game/Allowed

Rushing Yards Per Game/Allowed

Rushing Yards Per Attempt/Allowed

Passing Net Yards Per Game

At first glance at the numbers, it looks like the Panthers defense actually matches up well with New Orleans. Even with a young secondary, Carolina is 7th against the pass which is probably the biggest surprise after the first six weeks of the season. The secondary seemed to be the one spot of major concern due to the lack of depth and chemistry this group had, but they’ve played well above the expectations. You also have to give a lot of credit to defensive coordinator Phil Snow for understanding his personnel and has helped those guys out by dropping 7-8 guys in coverage on the majority of plays. Snow wants to keep everything in front and not let the explosive plays down the field be the thing that beats this young defense.

The two weak areas for Carolina have been getting off the field on 3rd down and registering sacks. Unfortunately, the Saints are really good in both 3rd down efficiency and protecting Drew Brees in the pocket, ranking in the top four in both categories. This is where the veteran quarterback can really put a hurting on the Panthers by keeping drives alive and being able to pick apart the secondary with the plethora of weapons that he has to his disposal. If Brian Burns and company get apply any pressure, it’s going to be a long day for the Carolina defense.

Advantage: New Orleans offense

When the Panthers have the ball:

Panthers Offense

Stats

Saints Defense

Total Net Yards Per Game/Allowed

Rushing Yards Per Game/Allowed

Rushing Yards Per Attempt/Allowed

Passing Net Yards Per Game

The Saints defense will do everything they can to try and take away the run game for Carolina and make them a one-dimensional offense. Teams have had a difficult time running the football on the Saints as they have allowed only 100.2 yards per game and just 3.5 yards per attempt. 

Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady will want to get Mike Davis involved early and often and get the offensive line some confidence in the run game. If Carolina can offer some sort of a threat on the ground, it will open up a lot of things for Teddy Bridgewater in the passing game. The Saints secondary is prone to giving up big plays and I fully expect Bridgewater to expose that back end throughout the entirety of the game. 

When you watch the Saints defense, it kind of has a bend, don’t break mentality. Whether or not that’s what they’re going for,5 I don’t know, but that’s how the defense presents itself. Unfortunately for the Saints, it’s been more break than bend which is why they are giving up 30 points per game. With that said, Carolina has to capitalize on the Saints’ lackluster pass defense and score 7 when they reach the red zone.

Advantage: Carolina offense

Prediction: Saints 31, Panthers 20

This game could be much closer, but I feel that the Saints are going to be completely reenergized following a bye week and are going to come out taking shots with Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas (if he’s able to play) against this young secondary. A slow start for Carolina will be what keeps them out of the game and a late touchdown will make it look better than what it really is. I’ve got the Panthers dropping their second straight game and falling to 3-4 on the season.

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