The Panthers Take on a Dangerous Saints Team

Sharon Thorsland
September 22, 2017 - 7:22 am

USA Today Images

It's a division showdown at Bank of America stadium on Sunday, when the Panthers open NFC South play against New Orleans.  Kickoff is set for 1:00 on WBT, the pregame show starts at 10am.  It's a matchup of the Panthers' number one ranked defense against the Saints' high powered offense, which is racking up over 386 yards per game, that's third in the NFL.  That output hasn't helped get the Saints in the win column, though, they're 0-2 on the season after a 36-20 loss to the Patriots, while the Panthers are sitting at 2-0 after a 9-3 win over Buffalo.

But don't count the Saints out just yet - they've still got Drew Brees.  The 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback has led the NFL in passing for three straight seasons and already has 647 yards this season with three touchowns and no interceptions.  "He's just so smart," says Panther cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.  "He's a smart guy, he can make every throw on the football field - he's just a guy that can do everything."

Brees' top target is second year receiver Michael Thomas, he has 10 catches, and Panther fans will recognize the familiar number 19 of Ted Ginn, Jr. on the Saints sideline.  And he's still just as fast as ever.  Willie Snead is suspended for three games so Thomas and Ginn team with tight end Coby Fleener, he has two touchdowns.  The Saints running backs are also in the mix - Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara are both great pass catchers.  What they haven't been so good at is running the ball - the Saints are managing just 70 yards a contest, that's 28th in the league.  And they even have Pro Bowler and longtime Viking Adrian Peterson in the fold.  Things won't get any easier for them against the Panthers, who boast the number one defense in the NFL.

The Saints are about as far away from number one as you can get when it comes to defense.  In fact, they rank dead last in the NFL allowing a whopping 512 yards per game, and are next to last in points allowed at over 32 a contest.  It's not like they don't have talent - guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, former Panther linebacker A.J. Klein, and veteran defensive tackle Nick Fairly are in the lineup.  But they are starting a trio of rookies and have a very young secondary that is missing starting cornerback Delvin Breaux, who's out with a broken leg.  

In spite of their flaws, the Saints are still a very dangerous team, and the Panthers know it.  This is a division game, the Saints can put up tons of points, and they're desperate to get into the win column.  "The year they won the Super Bowl they had the last-ranked defense in the NFL," says Panther receiver Russell Shepard.  "And they've got Drew Brees.  You better forget about the record, you better forget the statistics, you've just got to come out and respect your opponent."


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