Week 2: New Orleans Saints At Carolina Panthers

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

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.


  1. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass in the first quarter against Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Running back Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by nose tackle Kenny Clark #97 and cornerback Demetri Goodson #39 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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  2. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles avoids Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings as he runs for a first down during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-16.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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  3. GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles out of the pocked during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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