Eye 3 Yellow 3d 2 new logo Philly_KYW_new Philly_94WIP_new CBS Sports Radio 610 Philly_WPHT_new

Tale of the tape

Week 2: New Orleans Saints At Carolina Panthers

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints

Saints

Panthers

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. Quarterback 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.
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. Offense 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. Defense 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.
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. Special Teams 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
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. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    National Championship Matchup: #8 Kentucky Vs. #7 Connecticut

    No. 8-seeded Kentucky stunned No. 2-seeded Michigan in the Elite Eight and shut down Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and the Badgers offense in the Final Four.

  2. (credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Semifinal Matchup: #8 Kentucky Vs. #2 Wisconsin

    Wisconsin—who was overshadowed by other top Big Ten teams in the tournament in Michigan and Michigan State—is now the last man standing and hoping to win it all with the likes of big man, Frank Kaminsky.

  3. (credit: Elsa/Getty Images) (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Semifinal Matchup: #7 Connecticut Vs. #1 Florida

    It was three years ago that Jim Calhoun led the UConn Huskies to the college basketball national championship. That Final Four included two of the teams in this year’s Final Four in UConn and Kentucky

See all Tales of the Tape