The New Orleans Saints must overcome road woes to beat the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 and take control of the NFC South for good, but they must also get better defensively.
If that sounds strange, it is. Rob Ryan has done a great job with the unit this year, but things have been a bit negative as of late in terms of forcing turnovers. Larry Holder of NOLA.com summarizes it well:
New Orleans created 15 takeaways through the first seven games. The Saints stood at a season-high plus-8 in the turnover margin leading up to the team’s Week 9 matchup at the Jets.
The turnover faucet has nearly run dry for the Saints the past seven games as the Saints have only come up with two takeaways. As a result, the Saints are even with 17 takeaways and 17 giveaways.
Coach Sean Payton spoke on the isssue:
“We’ve had our opportunities,” Payton said. “We’ve had our hands on a handful of balls. Hopefully, they come and we get a clump of them. … I think that statistic is important. I think that protecting the quarterback and affecting the quarterback is going to be a key element. It is (an) important game and I think when you look at, I mentioned third down, I mentioned the turnovers, those are all things that are going to really point to the team that wins.”
Important indeed. Time will tell if the Saints can turn things around in the turnover department. Regardless, it is hard to imagine the Saints winning in Carolina if they cannot win the turnover battle.
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