The New Orleans Saints have a tough division matchup this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, who have a better roster than Saint fans may realize.
Division games are always tough and the New Orleans Saints were reminded that two weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons. After defeating another division foe last week, the Saints play their third (of four) division opponent in a row this Sunday in the Carolina Panthers.
At a glance, the New Orleans Saints are the better team. New Orleans is 8-2 on the season while the Panthers have had to fight tooth and nail to get to 5-5. However, if we dive deeper on the rosters, we may find some areas that the Panthers can exploit to make this game closer than Saint fans are comfortable with.
Division games are unpredictable and to get our best grasp we are going to breakdown every area of the roster, deciding which team has the advantage.
Special teams: Advantage, New Orleans Saints
It is very rare that the New Orleans Saints do not have the special teams advantage as it is very hard to find a good kicker-punter duo (mostly because of the kicker) and the Saints have done just that.
Wil Lutz has not been perfect but he has made 84 percent of his field goals and 95.8 percent of his extra points, which is far better than the 73.9 and 91.9 percent that Panthers kicker Joey Slye has made.
Panthers punter Michael Palardy is actually having a good season but still falls short of Thomas Morstead, who may be the best punter in the NFL this season. Morstead has a long of 64 yards and has pinned opponents within the 20-yard-line 23 times in 39 punts. Palardy has pinned opponents 17 times in 46 punts.
Per Football Outsiders, the Saints average the fourth-best starting field position in the league this season, starting on the 30.96 yard-line. Carolina is slightly better, starting on average at the 31.45 yard-line, but that is not enough to give them the special teams edge with the kicker/punter disadvantage.