Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Key Game for the Panthers vs. Saints

Sharon Thorsland
November 23, 2019 - 11:36 am

The Panthers are looking to snap a two-game losing streak and get back on track when they take on the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday.  

Kick-off is set for 1:00 on WBT.  At 5-5 on the season, “their backs are against the wall,” according to safety Tre Boston.  

But no one is panicking – they've still got six games left, three of them against division opponents.  

“We just gotta win,” said cornerback James Bradberry.  “Once you win, you control your destiny. You go 6-0 hopefully throughout these last six games, and make a run for the playoffs.”

That run needs to start against the Saints, who are 8-2 on the season in spite of losing all-everything quarterback Drew Brees for most of six games. 

The 19-year veteran leads an offense that is loaded with weapons, including All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.  

The fourth-year player is the number one receiver in the NFL with 94 catches for 1141 yards on the season.  

Former Panther Ted Ginn, Jr. is still one of the fastest receivers in the league, and Brees has a new target in former Raiders tight end Jared Cook, who played at South Carolina.

And then there's Alvin Kamara.  The running back is in a class all by himself and is the Saints version of Christian McCaffrey. 

Kamara has been slowed by an ankle injury, but is healthy again and had 122 combined yards against the Bucs last week.  

“He's difficult to tackle,” said Panther linebacker Luke Kuechly.  “Obviously he's good in space, but his ability to break tackles and make guys miss is unique.” 

 Former Vikings running back Latavious Murray has replaced the departed Mark Ingram, and he's also a Pro Bowler who has rushed for 398 yards and four touchdowns this season. 

Stopping the run has been a sore point for the Panthers lately – they rank 27th in the league allowing over 128 yards per game.  They'll need to get that cleaned up if they want to beat the Saints.

Of course, the Saints will have their own difficulties slowing down McCaffrey, who leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage. 

But they've got an excellent front seven, and rank third in the league allowing just 85 rushing yards per game.  

They're also limiting opponents to just 33 percent on third-down conversions, that's fifth in the league. 

Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan leads the team with 9.5 sacks, while DT Sheldon Rankins has eight more.  

Former Panther A.J. Klein starts at outside linebacker, he teams with veteran Demario Davis and former Dolphin Kiko Alonso.  

Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore is nursing a hamstring injury but safety Marcus Williams has picked up the slack – he's got four interceptions, one of those a pick-six. 

“Their defense plays tough,” said Panther quarterback Kyle Allen.  “They create turnovers, they create a lot of confusion, and they've got a lot of playmakers.”

Allen and the Panthers have to get back to making plays and find a way to get it done in the Superdome, which is one of the toughest places to play in the league.  

The Saints have a three-game lead in the NFC South, and the Panthers need to cut into that if they want to keep their playoff chances alive.  

“At this point in the season we're 5-5,” said cornerback Ross Cockrell. “And the opportunities are running low. We've got to take advantage of every single one of them.”

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