Wild Card Weekend: #4 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs #5 CAROLINA PANTHERS
NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND MATCH UP
#4 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs #5 CAROLINA PANTHERS
(Sunday January 7, 2018 4:40 pm EST FOX)
This should be one of the entertaining matchups this weekend. There might even be enough action in this game to help you forget you broke your back shoveling and lost feeling in your hands and face. This will be the 3rd matchup between these two teams this season. The Saints won both games by double digits. They’ll be looking to get the Hat Trick against the rejuvenated Panthers Sunday. Cam Newton will be looking for any phone booth he can find in NOLA because he’ll need his cape to keep up with the Saints.
The Panthers got off to a lackluster start this season due to the rehabilitation of Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder. They weren’t really losing games, but they weren’t playing as sharp as we’re used to seeing them. They lost their #1 pass catcher, Greg Olsen, week 2 to a broken leg. Then they traded their #1 WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills for a third-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft. Surprisingly, they didn’t take a hit with those 2 absences. With Greg Olsen back, rookie RB Christian McCaffrey frustrating opposing defenses, and Cam playing like the Cam of old, Panthers should have enough confidence on Sunday to end their pregame speech with “Third Time’s a Charm” and actually mean it.
The Saints have been on fire this season. For years, they’ve been known as an offensive threat behind the mind of Sean Payton and the arm of Drew Brees, so their offense wasn’t surprising anyone (excluding the misuse of Adrian Peterson). It’s their defense that’s impressed us this season. That’s not saying their offense hasn’t been worth watching; behind rookie RB Alvin Kamara and RB Mark Ingram, the Saints run offense has been scary good. They are the first running back teammates in NFL history to record 1,500+ scrimmage yards in the same season. Both backs have the speed and juke ability to embarrass linebackers effortlessly. They’ll need to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to get by Panthers’ 3rd ranked run stopping defense. I doubt the Saints are too worried though, in their previous 2 meetings this season Saints scored 32.5 PPG with 381.0 YPG, while the Panthers scored 17 PPG with 283.5 YPG.
The outcome of this game will not differ from the previous two. Saints are on a roll without any signs of letting up. Brees will throw 2 TDs in the first half to Cam’s 1. Just when the Panthers believe they have Kamara and Ingram under control, Michael Thomas will have some mesmerizing catches to remind them that he came to play too. I can’t expect much from McCaffrey in his first ever playoff game, but look for him and Devin Funchess to have a couple nice plays. The second half will be a Cam Newton highlight reel as he enters desperation mode to save the Panthers’ season.
Pending any serious setbacks, look for this to be an easy win for the Saints as they march on to take on either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Minnesota Vikings.
SAINTS 35 – PANTHERS 27