The Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints have built a rivalry defined by high-scoring shootouts and relentless play. Any Panthers fan would quickly point out that the Panthers got the better of the Saints during the 2012 season, as Carolina swept New Orleans in their two meetings.
Even so, the Saints have been far more successful over the past five seasons. During the last half-decade, New Orleans has laid claim to the NFC South title twice, with the Panthers only winning it once over that time.
Neither the Panthers nor the Saints are the defending NFC South champions, though. That distinction belongs to the Atlanta Falcons, who won the division going away in 2012.
While the Falcons are the favorites to repeat as division winners. they should not be crowned just yet. It's plausible that the winner of the Panthers/Saints series could dictate which team has the opportunity to challenge the Falcons for divisional supremacy.
Focusing on the Saints this season, the following sections will display which parts of the Panthers' bitter rival are easiest to hate.
What is there to say about Drew Brees?
Perhaps the fact that he gets his own section says it all. Brees has racked up some huge stats against the Panthers. In 14 starts against Carolina, Brees has thrown for 4,047 yards and 24 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions.
It should be noted that the Panthers have not been dominated by the Saints and Brees; the two sides have split their 14 contests equally thus far.
Moving forward, it will be imperative for Carolina to win the majority of its divisional contests. Failing to do so will set them back majorly, since the primary goal for the Panthers should be to win the NFC South this season.
In order to beat the Saints, Carolina will have to slow Brees down, even if it's just slightly.
Fortunately for the Panthers, bookend defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy will limit Brees' time in the pocket.
No lead is ever safe when Brees is on the opposing sideline, as his comfort level in the Saints' pass-heavy attack is difficult to shake.
Brees' performance is arguably more closely linked to the Saints' success than any other signal-caller in the league, since New Orleans identity is completely based upon its aerial attack.
Let's put it this way. If Brees has a poor game when the Panthers travel to play the Saints during Week 14, then Carolina figures to be the heavy favorite to return home with its third straight win against New Orleans.
Prior to Brees' arrival, the Saints were one of the NFL's primary laughingstocks, so it didn't really matter what their fans screamed.
Now that New Orleans is home to a legitimate and successful team, the rules have changed.
Saints fans are notorious for screaming out the phrase "Who Dat" endlessly, so it's no surprise that the phrase is despised by Panthers fans.
The phrase, which originated in New Orleans, has been echoed at Saints games at the Superdome since the 1980s, so it's amongst the league's most well-known chants. When the Panthers travel to New Orleans, it's a given that they will hear a chorus of "Who Dats" throughout the game.
During the Saints' run to Super Bowl XLIV, "Who Dat" swept the nation, becoming synonymous with the team's success. This is obviously an issue to the Panthers' faithful, because anything that symbolizes success for the Saints is bone-chilling.
The phrase adorned quite a few Saints shirts, which only assisted in its dissemination throughout the country. Disdain for "Who Dat" isn't limited to just Panthers' fans. It must annoy many other NFL markets as well.
What's up with Their 'Us vs. the World' Mentality, and Have They Heard of Defense?
When the Saints were implicated in the bounty scandal, it felt like the criticism flung their way would never end. At the time, it made sense that New Orleans bonded together in face of such a flurry of negativity.
It should be noted that the Saints' mentality didn't work out well; they failed to reach the success that the 2007 New England Patriots found in the wake of Spy Gate. Now that Roger Goodell's decision has been overturned, it doesn't make sense for such a mentality to still exist.
As stated earlier, the Saints are completely reliant on their passing attack in order to win football games. When Brees and the rest of the offense aren't clicking, watching New Orleans can be quite entertaining for Panthers fans that love to watch their bitter rival struggle.
If the Saints employed a respectable defense, then all of the pressure wouldn't be on their offense. Last season, New Orleans finished 31st in scoring defense and dead last in both passing and rushing defense.
Hopefully that trend continues this season. It would be virtually impossible for the Saints to compete for a playoff berth while playing such horrid defense.
While the Saints' putrid defense actually helps the Panthers, that doesn't mean Carolina fans can't poke fun at their rival for attacking last season in such a lopsided manner.