New Orleans Saints look to hand Panthers first loss, despite struggles


The New Orleans Saints will have the opportunity Sunday to hand a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the last remaining undefeated team in the National Football League.

Not many New Orleans Saints fans want to admit it, but the Carolina Panthers are good football team, hence the 11-0 record.  Sure, one of the NFL’s weakest schedules has helped Ron Rivera‘s squad remain unbeaten, but it’s hard not to throw some respect their way after victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

Saints head coach Sean Payton had a lot of good things to say about Carolina during his Monday morning press conference.

“They’re doing all of the things that great teams do,” Payton said. “Do they rush the ball well? Yes. Is the quarterback (Cam Newton) playing at a high level? Yes. Are they good in the red zone? Yes. Defensively, they’re taking the ball away. Obviously, last week they had two touchdowns defensively. You start playing with that type of momentum and you see that competitiveness in both areas, as well as in the kicking game.

“They have a ton of guys on defense that are playing really well. You can start looking at their Mike linebacker (Luke Kuechly), (Thomas) Davis, their weakside linebacker, and (Josh) Norman. You are going through the roster and you are going to see a lot of these guys playing in the Pro Bowl. They are having that type of season. Ron and his staff are doing a great job putting together a real good football team and a team that believes in itself. There are not many times when you watch them play and you seem them do things that hurt themselves.”

While some may say the Panthers are the worst team to ever start 11-0, or they’re just simply overrated, they are getting the job done, and that’s really all that matters.  As long as you’re putting wins on the board, right?

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After barely escaping with a 27-22 Week 3 victory over a New Orleans Saints team with backup Luke McCown at quarterback — thanks to a Josh Norman interception in the end zone in the final seconds of the game — the Panthers are matched up with their opponents in the NFC South again this Sunday.

But the test will indeed be tougher for Carolina this time around.  The Saints play host in the always-energized Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and it’s future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees under center this time, not “backup generator” Luke McCown.

Despite the New Orleans Saints struggles in 2015, they’ll look to hand the Panthers their first loss.  As bad as the Black and Gold have been, that sounds crazy right?  But anybody who knows about the underrated competitiveness in the NFC South will tell you otherwise.

The Saints beat an undefeated Atlanta Falcons team already, so who’s to say they can’t do it to a second division opponent?  Of course, it will take hard work and proper preparation at practice.

“I think it is a challenge and that we have to have a real good week of practice and the right mindset, because they are playing well,” Sean Payton said.

The Saints are struggling tremendously in a number of departments, their season is likely over, and the Panthers are a much better football team — there’s no denying any of that.  But remember, it’s any given Sunday, and it’s the NFC South.  New Orleans cannot be underestimated Sunday afternoon, but they must come out firing on all cylinders if they wish to take care of business.