Week 2: New Orleans Saints At Carolina Panthers

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Winner The scrutiny will be quite intense this year on the Saints and that means that all eyes will be watching Drew Brees even more than before. He is a brilliant leader and an accurate passer, but he may have trouble matching his previous levels if the Saints defense can’t do its job.
The Panthers jumped up dramatically last season with Cam Newton at quarterback but the NFL is a “What have you done for me lately?” kind of league. Newton was unimpressive in the season-opening loss to Tampa Bay.
Winner If the Saints are going to maintain their position as an upper-echelon team this season, it will be due to their explosive offense. Running back Darren Sproles, wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end are the keys to this unit that can light up the scoreboard.
The Panthers depend on their running game and that means DeAngelo Williams must give them big chunks along with Newton’s forays. Steve Smith remains a tough and productive wide receiver.
The Saints got a lift when Roger Goodell’s suspensions of Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were lifted. Smith played against the Redskins but Vilma was not ready. The Saints defense is aggressive but somewhat shoddy against Washington.
Winner Head coach Ron Rivera is a defensive specialist and he had to be a bit disappointed that his team was not dominant against Tampa Bay. Keep your eye on superb rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, who should be one of the best tacklers in the league.
Special Teams
Winner The Saints are going to have to win special teams battles this year because the defense appears subpar. Sproles is an explosive return man while punter Thomas Morstead has a strong leg.
The Panthers were unhappy with special teams and made significant changes. Brad Nortman got off to a decent start punting as the Bucs got no return yardage on his kicks.

The Winner Is

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Winner Saints
3 out of 4

The Saints will get a huge lift if Vilma is in good enough shape to play this game. Both teams want to avoid an 0-2 start and while the Panthers are at home, the Saints have too many offensive weapons and should be able to take this game.


  1. KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints at Arrowhead Stadium during the fourth quarter of the game on October 23, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images) NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 23: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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  2. DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass during the third quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Washington 20-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 23:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the third quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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  3. JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23: Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to throw during the first half of the game against the Oakland Raiders at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 16:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans passes the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Nissan Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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