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
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
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.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

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

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. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints

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  2. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Trevathan #59 and Akiem Hicks #96 of the Chicago Bears
stop Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles
at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagels defeated the Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammates center Travis Frederick #72 and offensive guard La\'el Collins #71 after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys rookies have looked good the first two weeks, now they get the winless and injury plagued Bears at home.

  3. PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Xavier Grimble #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown with Ben Roethlisberger #7 in the first quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles hands off the football to Ryan Mathews #24 in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Philadelphia Eagles

    The two Pennsylvania teams have gotten off to 2-0 starts. Who will win the battle for interstate bragging rights?

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