After a relatively easy road win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints return home to host the Carolina Panthers.
We touted the dangers that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers possessed heading into their matchup against the New Orleans Saints and the Saints were able to overcome them and win relatively easily on Sunday. Now, we have to present to you the dangers that make the Carolina Panthers a potentially scary match up.
On the surface, the Saints should have this game in the bag at home. They are coming up against a .500 team that is technically on its second-string quarterback. The betting lines confirm this, as according to the Action Network, the Saints are currently 9.5-point favorites over the Panthers.
There are some dangers to consider in this game that might keep any bettors away from that hefty 9.5-point line.
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The first reason to be concerned is the sometimes trivial fact that this is a division game. While it did nothing for the Bucs last week, the Panthers are going to get up for this game and throw the kitchen sink at the Saints in order to win.
The team are playoff hopefuls and need to win every single game and are going to be even more motivated coming up against their biggest rivals. While the Saints are still more talented, this kind of motivation can lead to a team playing much better than their talent indicates, just look at the Falcons game two weeks ago.
In terms of the talent on the field, though, the Panthers have three things that could disrupt the Saints pretty heavily.
The first is a man by the name of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been the best running back in football this year and is the master of making plays out of nothing.
He is always a threat to take over the game entirely and win the game for the Panthers, and if they get out to any sort of lead, the team can simply jump on the back of McCaffrey and attempt to milk out the game.
However, that is a threat to every team that plays the Panthers and it does not always work that way. There are some specific details that could hurt the Saints, both of which have to do with injuries playing into the Panthers’ strengths.
The first is if Marshon Lattimore cannot return and Eli Apple has to match up against D.J. Moore. The Saints’ secondary showed up without Lattimore last week but there were still some moments where his presence was missed and the coverage broke down.
If they were facing a team without a good first receiver then it would not be that big of a problem with Apple as the best corner. That is not the case as the team is taking on D.J. Moore, who is ninth in receptions and 14th in receiving yards this season.
He is not among the elite receivers, but he has the speed and lateral quickness to explode for a huge game. With the defense being forced to respect McCaffrey, Moore is a prime candidate for a big game.
Above all else, the thing that could hurt the New Orleans Saints the most is the Panthers’ pass-rush. The Saints’ offensive line has been one of the best in the league for most of the season, however, in both of their losses the offensive line did not show up and the quarterback was pressured.
It is not like the Panthers are a one-man wrecking crew either. The team has eight players with three or more sacks this season, lead by Mario Addison, who has eight. That makes it much harder for the Saints to focus on one guy to try and take him out of the game.
Drew Brees was sacked six times just two weeks ago against a shoddy Falcons defense, making this matchup against the Carolina defense even scarier. For those reasons, the Panthers are a potentially dangerous matchup for the New Orleans Saints.