Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) changes the play at the line during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Since Drew Brees brought his talents over to Southeast Louisiana in 2006, the Black and Gold have a 7-9 record against their division foe, the Carolina Panthers. However, as a starter in the NFL, the Pro Bowl quarterback is 8-8 all time when facing the Cats.
His first win came almost exactly ten years ago in October of 2004 when he was taking snaps for the San Diego Chargers. One of the Saints’ nine losses came when Brees was benched for the final game of the season during New Orleans’ historic Super Bowl run in 2009.
Drew will be looking to get ahead of the Panthers tomorrow for an overall personal record of 9-8, but that’s no concern. He’ll be focused on getting his team ahead in the NFC South, which is what will happen if the Saints reign supreme in Thursday night’s divisional showdown.
New Orleans’ high-octane offense is firing on all cylinders at the moment, totaling 903 yards in their previous two contests. With Mark Ingram back in action and running extraordinarily well against the Green Bay Packers, pressure was taken off Brees, resulting in a near-flawless performance.
With guys like Jimmy Graham, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills and Marques Colston reeling in catches, Drew’s targets are abundant. The offensive production has been spectacular, ranking No. 2 in the NFL just behind Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
With both New Orleans and Carolina battling for a spot atop the division, this matchup is certainly intriguing, but against a struggling defense that could be missing some key players, the Black and Gold have a legitimate shot at cashing in for their first road win of the 2014 season.
LB Chase Blackburn was placed on season-ending IR with a knee injury Tuesday morning. Rookie CB Bene Benwikere, who the Panthers have high hopes for in the future, remains out after missing the team’s past three games.
Thomas DeCoud, a former Pro-Bowl (2012) safety for the Atlanta Falcons, is listed as questionable on today’s injury report for Carolina. And of course, DE Greg Hardy remains on a paid leave of absence while awaiting a Nov. 17 jury trial for two misdemeanor charges for domestic violence. Ron Rivera‘s defense has struggled mightily without their elite pass rusher, but they should certainly not be underestimated, especially with guys like Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson in the mix.
It will be up to Brees, Ingram and the rest of the offense to get some points on the board, but they can’t get the win alone. The defense will need to play lights-out like they did in the second half of the Green Bay game.
Stopping an offense led by Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin won’t come easy and according to the Charlotte Observer, Saints killer DeAngelo Williams will get the nod at running back after only suiting up for two contests in eight games this season.
A lights-out performance in all aspects of the game will be required if Brees and company wish to find success in a hostile environment. Will Drew find his ninth win as a starter against the Panthers while helping the Black and Gold continue their turnaround by topping their division rival? With Thursday Night Football set to kick off on NFL Network and WWL New Orleans tomorrow, you can see for yourself.