Defensive line: Advantage, Carolina Panthers
It can be a bit tough comparing a 4-3 defense and 3-4 defense just in terms of who to classify in what. So in this case, we are classifying the Panthers left end, right end, nose tackle and weakside and strongside linebacker as the defensive line, although it does not always work that way.
Either way, though, the Panthers are the best team in the NFL in getting to the quarterback as they lead the league in sacks this season, in large part due to this defensive line setup. Mario Addison, Brian Burnes, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe and Vernon Butler all have four or more sacks this season.
Linebackers: Advantage, Carolina Panthers
Even with the numbers advantage, the New Orleans Saints are still slightly worse than the Panthers at linebacker, albeit that does not mean they are bad at the position.
Luke Keuchley and Shaq Thompson have both been fantastic for the Panthers this season, combining for 168 total tackles, two interceptions, three sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.
Cornerbacks: Advantage, Carolina Panthers (Advantage, New Orleans Saints if Marshon Lattimore plays)
These two teams are really close in all of these categories and yet again the Carolina Panthers edge out the Saints because of the team’s depth at the cornerback position compared to New Orleans.
The Saints have the best cornerback of either team in Marshon Lattimore, who makes a world of difference in this breakdown. However, if he does not play, the depth of the Panthers compared to Eli Apple being forced to be the number one corner sways it in favor of Carolina.
Safeties: Advantage, New Orleans Saints
Again, this was not an easy decision but this time it swings in favor of the Saints. Marcus Williams is the reason for this as Williams has quietly been one of the best safeties in the league this season and is a huge reason why the Saints’ defense has had success.
It is no surprise that the Saints and Panthers’ secondaries are so close considering they are within 0.6 passing yards allowed per game within each other this season.