Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) scores a touchdown as Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
ANALYSIS AND FINAL SCORE PREDICTION
Honestly, coming into my season prediction of 10-6 for the Saints, I had them losing this game.
In last week’s Big Easy Believer article “5 Predictions for the 2nd Half of the Season” (click HERE), I had the Saints finishing the second half 6-2, but losing this game (although i did have them defeating Denver).
Playing at Carolina is always a tough proposition, but doing so on a short week seems almost insurmountable.
Key word: ALMOST.
I don’t expect the shootout that we saw between these two teams in Week #6. These Thursday games are often littered with sloppy play on both sides.
I expect a lower scoring game this time, and both teams will move the ball but defenses will stiffen closer to the goal line.
Dennis Allen’s defense will continue their trend of blitzing from various angles, so coverage on the back end will be crucial–especially on Saints “killer” and Panthers All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen.
Sean Payton and Pete Carmichael will attempt to run the ball to keep balance, but as so often happens, the fate of this offense will lie with the right arm of Drew Brees.
Michael Thomas’ rough outing of a week ago will continue slightly with a quiet first half, but Brees will continue to show trust in his rookie wideout.
Thomas finishes with the best performance of his young career so far — with something in the neighborhood of 10 catches, 150 yards and 2 touchdowns in front of a “prime time” audience; including a late TD reception to seal an improbable Saints victory that keeps them alive in the Playoff chase in the NFC……