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Keys to the Game: Saints vs. Panthers

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Defense

Dec 15, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy (30) is tackled by New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints defense took another shot to the gut last week. While it wasn’t the craziest stat in the world, the defense gave up 302 total yards to the Rams, but it was the poor tackling, and the fact that the Rams explosive ground attack is what did the Saints in.

Much like the first game, you’ll see the Panthers play their style of offense, which is heavily centered on the run. They were able to get 131 rushing yards on the Jets defense last week, which oh by the way, is ranked third in the league giving up only 86.1 rushing yards/game. Count that as a giant win for the Panthers.

I’d be ignorant and completely naive by telling you the Saints defense from a couple of weeks ago is going to show up again. It’s not that I doubt the Saints defense at all, but there’s a reason why teams do film study. However, what I do expect to see is the front line getting more pressure to Cam Newton. While they may not turn out another five sack performance, I like Newton to be hurried to the point where he may look to escape. Now, this poses to be a nuisance, but I think Rob Ryan will have a good QB Spy in the mix to account for this.

What To Watch For: The overall defensive response to last week. To further throw salt in the wound, the Saints didn’t sack Kellen Clemens at all, and only hit him once on the day. This unit stays hungry, and I think we can be in for some mass blitzing. We’re all going to look for tackling as well, as that was hopefully just a minor bump last week.

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