NOW LIVE: Eyewitness News

TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 2: New Orleans Saints At Carolina Panthers

Saints
Panthers
Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Quarterback
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.
Offense
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.
Defense
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.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers (Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis, Getty Images) Kaleb Tarczewski #35 of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Elite Eight Tale: #1 Wisconsin Vs. #2 Arizona

    It is rematch time. Last year, the Wisconsin Badgers and Arizona Wildcats met in the Elite Eight and Wisconsin walked away with a 64-63 overtime win.

  2. Devin Booker #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Elite Eight Tale: #1 Kentucky Vs. #3 Notre Dame

    Coming into the Sweet 16, West Virginia showed confidence that they could be the team that finally knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats.

  3. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson, Getty Images) (Photo Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr., Getty Images)
    Sweet 16: #1 Duke Vs. #5 Utah

    So much for the weak Pac-12 this year: The Utah Utes are one of three teams from the beleaguered conference to make the Sweet 16 this year, and they’ll face the best ACC team left in the tournament: Duke.

See All Tales of the Tape