What does the Kelvin Benjamin ACL injury mean for the New Orleans Saints?
The Carolina Panthers suffered a huge loss Wednesday. Kelvin Benjamin, a first-round pick a year ago and one of the NFL‘s young emerging wide receivers, was carted off the practice field with an apparent knee injury. Hours later, he announced he would miss the entire season after an MRI revealed a torn ACL.
The loss of Kelvin Benjamin is a giant blow to the Panthers’ offense. He was in line to be quarterback Cam Newton‘s top target in 2015. But we’re not here to talk about Carolina and their newest problem. We’re here to discuss how this injury affects the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.
Of course, one player doesn’t make up an entire football team, but for Carolina, the wide receiver was already a scarce position with unproven talent. A free agent signing is likely imminent, but this team’s dependability in the red zone just went way down after losing the 6-foot-5 wideout.
And for the 3,828 passing yards combined between Cam Newton and Derek Anderson, Kelvin Benjamin reeled in 1,008 of those. That’s 26.33% of the offense through the air, which leads the team alongside tight end Greg Olsen.
On top of leading his team in receiving yards, Benjamin also led the Panthers with nine touchdowns. Touchdowns win games. One touchdown can be the difference in a win or loss. A win or loss can be the difference in where you stand in your division. This affects the New Orleans Saints since they do share a home in the NFC South with Carolina.
A touchdown may not be the difference in any of their two games New Orleans and the Panthers play this season, but it could be, and it has been before. Carolina was going to rely heavily on Kelvin Benjamin, and the Saints were going to have to keep him covered for 120 minutes in 2015. Now, they don’t have to worry about him, but their opponent who owns back-to-back division titles cannot be overlooked and undervalued.
Again, one player doesn’t make up an entire football team for an entire season, but the loss of one player can sometimes be the difference in a win or loss in a single game, which is obviously crucial in division play, especially in a division that could be a neck and neck race all year long.
So to answer the question, losing Kelvin Benjamin just slightly increased the rest of the NFC South’s chances at the title, including the New Orleans Saints, unless of course the Panthers can figure out another solution. However, the Saints obviously have some questions of their own to answer as they look to rebound from a down year.
There are some big shoes to fill up in Charlotte at the moment. Still, and I repeat, the Carolina Panthers cannot be overlooked due to one player missing. The battle for the South is still looking to be a big one.
There is still no word on Panthers rookie WR Devin Funchess, the other big man who tweaked his hamstring during the same practice. They need to him to help make up for Benjamin’s lost production.
Best wishes to Kelvin Benjamin for a speedy and successful recovery. It’s never good to see a player go down like that.