by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member – email@example.com
LAS VEGAS = -3 Saints
There’s no doubt the team with the best athletes did not win last weekend with New Orleans’ divisional game against Tampa Bay. Whether it was because of the “brawl,” the five turnovers in the second half, or being too early against a veteran NFC South opponent, the Saints did not display their “A” game by any means.
Evaluating the lack of offensive performance along with penalties and turnovers, New Orleans never really appeared comfortable from the start of the game. Although they were sound defensively and got under the G.O.A.T.’s (Greatest of All Time – Tom Brady) skin until the fourth quarter, the production did not appear crisp.
When discussing the third consecutive NFC South Division opponent this weekend, the Carolina Panthers, outstanding individual performances should be turned into accomplishments leading to a win for the team rather than building targets or statistics. If this action occurs from the Saints, the win will take care of itself.
Another matchup between signal callers who both won the Heisman Trophy during their college playing days, Baker Mayfield and Jameis Winston, will show which player is headed in the right direction. Mayfield, often called the Pied Piper from Oklahoma, has played decently for the Panthers since being named the starter of week one, but has not turned into wins.
In the past, once Mayfield is pressured into making plays, the quarterback has not been successful.
Similarly, Winston does not play well under pressure. The Saints quarterback is probable on the injury report for his back but has been to inconsistent with the ball in his hands despite having one of the top arms in the league.
The Saints receiving corps and defensive unit is what makes New Orleans the top dog in this category. Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave, Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, etc. are some of the playmakers who have shown they can make drives and series last longer, so Winston needs to find a way to get them the ball.
Defensively, the secondary and linebacker group had two exceptional performance despite the turnovers and penalty calls. EDGE = SAINTS
New Orleans needs to start performing better on third downs offensively. Get the run established early in the game, no matter who is taking handoffs, and focus on getting the ball in the playmakers hands.
A strong improvement from the first game for the defense against a high-powered Tampa Bay team until the brawl. If the Saints defense follows the first three quarters of last week, the game should be at ease.
Carolina doesn’t have the playmakers New Orleans does, but they have played two close games in a row when they host the Saints this weekend. EDGE = SAINTS
The Saints offensive line versus Carolina’s defensive line is more than questionable. Although Jameis was sacked multiple times the last few game, he’s not as limber as the past and these ongoing minor injuries keeping him from offering two options as quarterback with his feet and arm.
After losing three key defensive lineman early in the season, the Panthers are having to rely on young players. The Panthers defense is currently ranked 24th following a few critical subtractions from the lineup.
New Orleans’ running game looks off, despite having over 250 yards in two games. Veteran Running Back Alvin Kamara is out until further notice and Mark Ingram doesn’t look to have the explosive firepower anymore, but the offensive line has been allowing a better run game so far. EDGE = SAINTS
Carolina’s explosive attack with Christian McCaffrey versus the New Orleans Defensive Line. McCaffrey has not run the ball much, but does have 135 yards along with a touchdown run. Despite only having one sack, the defensive unit held Tampa to under 50 yards rushing last week and continues to go after the ground attack while eliminating opposing teams first downs. EDGE = SAINTS
The Saints should play their own game and see their talent usurps the Carolina Panthers. Team camaraderie, decision making, and audible sequences should be taken care of before the game. Regardless of playing in a tough road environment, skills should matter more which favors New Orleans. EDGE = -3 SAINTS