This week the Saints take to the road to take on the 1-3 Panthers, but a Panthers team that is vastly different than a year ago when they won just two games. Below are some of our keys as well as our prediction as to how this matchup will play out Sunday in Carolina.
1. Get Colston More Involved – Receiver Marques Colston (7 receptions in 2011) returned from a two-game absence due to a shoulder injury last week, but had just one catch for eight yards. This week the Saints will need all their pass catches, and it starts with Colston, who is the teams best wide out. Look for Drew Brees to look for Colston quite a bit, more so early in the game, as the Saints try and set a tempo for the Panthers.
2. Keep an eye on Cam – Cam Newton has been better than advertised early on for the Panthers, and now he’s starting to run more, which is making him more dangerous. The Saints have to keep a couple eyes, not just two, on him at all times, as when he’s been beaten, it’s been because there’s a couple LB’s and DB’s watching his every move. The Saints can’t let him get into space, and need to make sure when they do get to him to bring him down.
3. Get Special – The Saints have a huge edge in the special teams, as special teams killed Carolina in the Windy City last week, with Devin Hester returning a punt for a touchdown. For the Panthers’ sake, the coaching staff will have to make the proper adjustments for the visiting Saints, and if not, the Saints can gain big chunks of yards on punt returns, and also get great field position in the kicking game. They also should be able to take advantage of a nice day when it comes to trying field goals as well.
Prediction – Could be a fun shootout between Drew Brees and Cam Newton in Carolina. The Panthers have hung in every game, but have won only won. The Saints have won every which way, and seem to be on pace for a playoff run that could end with a rematch against the Packers in the NFC Title game. Newton will continue to play well, but Brees is playing really well right now, and I can’t see the Panthers defense being able to go blow for blow with him. New Orleans 34 Carolina 21