NFL Playoffs: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints – Preview, Prediction, TV Info
On Sunday afternoon, the Carolina Panthers will travel to take on the New Orleans Saints in the second of two NFL NFC Wild Card Games. This game could be a possible preview of who will win the NFC in this year’s playoffs. Here we will take a look at the two teams, give you a prediction, and finally some game information.
Cam Newton leads this team. If he fails then the team can pack it in. Cam completed 60% of his passes en route to a 3,000+-yard season. He did this without a big-time wide receiver as well. An injury sidelined Greg Olsen, his number 1 target for most of the year. Also, they traded away Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills at the deadline. That only left Cam with Devin Funchess for most of the year. Not a big household name. Although he is becoming one.
The veteran Jonathan Stewart leads the running game. Stewart carried the ball 198 times this season. He was able to stay healthy in part by splitting carries with rookie sensation Christian McCaffrey. The two of these players have allowed Cam Newton to focus on throwing the ball more this season. Thus the Panthers fans could see a lot of the ground game against a defense that ranks 16th against the run.
Defensively the Carolina Panthers are one of the best in the NFL. In fact, he finished again as a top 10 defense. Something that is common to see these days. However, they are facing a New Orleans Saints offense that is well-balanced and no longer has to lean on the arm of Drew Brees to get TDs. The Saints are the 2nd best offense in the league. Hence it could be a long night for the Panthers.
Panthers Regular Season Leaders
Cam Newton – 291-492, 3,302 yards, 22 TDs, 16 INTs
Cam Newton – 139 carries, 754 yards, 6 TDs
Jonathan Stewart – 198 carries, 680 yards, 6 TDs
Christian McCaffery – 80 Rec, 651 yards, 5 TDs
Devin Funchess – 63 Rec, 840 yards, 8 TDs
Luke Kuechly – 125 (74 solo, 51 Assist)
Luke Kuechly – 3
New Orleans Saints
The Saints enter the playoffs as the four seed and NFC South Division Champions. They took control of the division about the 4th week of the season and never looked back. They are playing some of the best football in the NFC going into the Wild Card.
QB Drew Brees leads the offense. However, he has not had to do it all. Unlike past seasons, the Saints actually have a valid running game. In order to march on in January, a team needs a running game. Running the football in cold weather, outdoor games is a major key in the NFL Playoffs.
Look for the Saints to utilize their two-headed monster backfield on Sunday to keep the Panthers 7th ranked offense on their heels. Although it could be tough on Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Namely, because the Panthers are the third best run defense in the NFL.
Thus, the Saints should be able to exploit the Panthers through the air. They rank 18th against the pass. Therefore, Drew Brees could see himself throwing the ball 30+ times on Sunday.
The defense, on the other hand, will look to keep Cam Newton in the pocket. The Panthers make big plays when Newton is able to escape and use his legs. If the Saints can keep Newton in the pockets than their pass rush should be able to harass him and keep off his mark.
Saints Regular Season Leaders
Drew Brees – 386-536, 4, 334 yards, 23 TDs, 8 INTs
Mark Ingram – 230 carries, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs
Alvin Kamara – 120 carries, 728 yards, 8 TDs
Michael Thomas – 104 Rec, 1,245 yards, 5 TDs
Alvin Kamara – 81 Rec, 826 yards, 5 TDs
Von Bell – 83 (62 solo, 21 assists)
Marshon Lattimore – 5, 1 TD
Carolina Panthers – 21 New Orleans Saints – 30
Date: Sunday, January 7, 2018
Time: 4:40 PM EST
Location: New Orleans, LA
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Live Stream: FoxSportsGo https://www.foxsportsgo.com/
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