New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Sunday November 7th, 2010 1:00 PM EST
Line: New Orleans -6
The 5 -3 New Orleans Saints reestablished their dominance last week by knocking off the Steelers by ten. The win comes one week after being dominated by Cleveland at home. The Panthers have done nothing to make anyone believe they are going to be a threat in the NFC South. Aside from beating the 49ers, the Panthers have not been able to come away with a win, putting them at 1-6 on the year. While the Saints should easily cover the spread, history might show otherwise.
Keys to the Game:
- The Saints struggle on the ground, but they won’t cover if Chris Ivory can’t get something going. The Panthers allow 119 yards a game on the ground, while they shut teams down with their pass defense. Most teams simply say they are going to run the ball in this situation, but the Saints are a pass first team. With Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush sidelined, they have struggled to get their running game going. Though Ivory posted one big game, he is not a feature back just yet. The Saints barely held off the Panthers in their last meeting, which was in New Orleans. The Saints only put up 16 points and that was a big reason why.
- Carolina has to have someone step up in their front seven on defense. They haven’t been able to get pressure on the quarterback whatsoever, dropping opposing quarterbacks only eleven times this season. They no longer have Julius Peppers, so dropping seven back into coverage just isn’t going to work. The Panthers need to be more aggressive. Perhaps they will be able to bring in a dominant pass rusher this off season, but right now they need to work with the personnel they have. They have nothing to lose at 1-6. They might as well start sending people because getting pressure rushing four guys no longer works for the Panthers.
- The Panthers have to force Drew Brees to make mistakes. He has thrown multiple picks in three games this year and each have resulted in a loss. While the Browns dominated the Saints, they did not score an offensive touchdown. New Orleans relies heavily on playing Sean Payton error free football, so disrupting that is going to be key to their success. While Drew Brees is certainly talented, he is not perfect. The Panthers need to switch up their looks and try to cause a disruption in the backfield. As long as the Panthers can be a little more stout against the run, Brees is going to have to throw the ball, as he has all season long. Throwing the ball out of obligation is a good way to force bad throws. The Saints can no longer stretch the field and Chris Ivory isn’t great in pass protection. We will see if the Panthers can take advantage.
- With DeAngelo Williams out, the Panthers can’t afford to see Jonathan Stewart lay another egg. Last week, he was held to 30 yards on 14 carries, nearly duplicating his 29 yard, 14 carry performance the week before. The Panthers don’t have the quarterback to compensate for a poor run game, like the Saints do. They need Stewart to play his best football to remain competitive in this one. In their two point loss to the Saints earlier this season, the Panthers ran for 118 yards, 33 yards above their average for the season. With Williams out, their running attack will struggle, which puts all the pressure on the wobbly shoulders of Matt Moore.
The Panthers, in my opinion of course, are the worst team in the NFL. While they might not have a winless season going like the Bills, with DeAngelo Williams out of the lineup, it is hard to find anything they are solid at offensively.
Although they are effective at stopping the pass, teams rarely have to resort to throwing the ball, because the Panthers are usually behind. While they were competitive in their last outing against the Saints, this one won’t be so close. The Panthers have already lost five games this year by a double digit margin. Sunday won’t be any different.
Free NFL Pick: New Orleans -6