NFL Week 11 Preview: Panthers vs. Saints
The Panthers were on a winning streak, their defense was dominant and Cam Newton was back dabbing. At one point during the Week 10, however brief, it seemed like 2015 again at Bank of America Stadium. After the game, Carolina was reminded that 2015 is long gone and the issues on this year’s team continue to cost them close games. After going up 17-0, two fourth quarter turnovers led to a 20-17 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. Week 10’s game was the fourth time this season the Panthers lost a game by a field goal or less. Only 10 points separate the Panthers from a 7-2 record and the division lead but mistakes at pivotal moments have placed them at the bottom of the division and out of the playoff picture.
New Orleans comes into Thursday’s game with a 4-5 record after missing their chance to get over the .500 mark against the Broncos. Denver blocked and return a potential go-ahead PAT for a two-point defensive conversion to win the game. The Saints won the previous matchup against Carolina with a field goal in the final seconds of the game. That game featured plenty of offense as the two teams combined to score 79 points. Much of the same should be expected for Thursday’s rematch in Charlotte where the Panthers will look to get their first division win of the season.
Can Carolina’s defense keep it up against Drew Brees?
Carolina’s defense has been lights out over the past 3 games as they continue to get better each week. They’ve recorded 15 sacks in the past 3 weeks and the secondary has only allowed six passing plays of 20 yards or more during that span as well. They will need these trends to continue against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 11. In the previous matchup, Drew Brees threw for 465 yards and four touchdowns against an injury riddled Panthers secondary. Since that game, rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley have gotten better and nickel back Leonard Johnson has given the secondary a boost as well. The Panthers defense also gets LB Shaq Thompson back after missing the last two weeks with a knee injury.
The defense will need some help from Cam Newton and a Panthers offense that contributed to an early 21-point deficit in the last game against the Saints. The Panthers should be able to get whatever they want against a Saints defense that allowed them to score 38 points in three quarters in their first meeting. Cam Newton did not rush for a single yard against the Saints in Week 6 but he’s turned it on since then. In Week 10, he rushed for a season-high 54 yards and he added a score on the ground as well. The Panthers rushing attack has been below average the past two weeks but it will need to be strong on Thursday in order to keep Drew Brees and that potent Saints offense off the field.
This should be another high scoring game between these division rivals but Carolina’s improved pass rush should be enough to help get them over the top on Thursday.
Final Score: 31-30 Panthers