Week 15: Previewing Saints at Panthers on Monday Night Football


Previewing the Week 14, Monday Night Football showdown between the 11-2, NFC South champion New Orleans Saints and the 6-7 Carolina Panthers.

The 11-2 New Orleans Saints will face off on Monday Night Football, Dec. 17, on the road against the 6-7 Carolina Panthers. The Saints are playing for playoff seeding and the Panthers for a slim shot at a wild card slot.

Week 14 brought plenty of ups and downs for the New Orleans Saints. After suffering a devastating loss in Week 13 to the Dallas Cowboys, the Saints opened the game against the Buccaneers in similar fashion. The Saints went into the locker at halftime against Tampa Bay down 14-3, with only three rushing yards. More of the same.

One Taysom Hill punt block, and three touchdowns later the Saints walked away with a 28-14 victory, all while clenching the NFC South for the second year in a row. Hopefully, when looking back on the 2018 season, Saints fans to look at those six quarters of football as nothing more than an anomaly.

Now Week 15 brings a formidable opponent in the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were thought to be a Super Bowl contender this year and looked it through the first nine weeks of the season. However, after five straight losses, the Panthers look to be fading from the wild card spot. This matchup could be one that has playoff implications, depending on which Saints and Panthers teams decide to show up on Monday night.

New Orleans Saints Offense against Carolina Panthers Defense

The New Orleans Saints enter Week 15 with the seventh most yards per game in the NFL, but second in points scored per game at 34.4 per game. The Payton/Brees machine has been clicking all season (Week 14 aside). If we assume that Week 14 was just an odd blip, we can assume the Saints’ high powered offense will be on display Monday night.

On the flip side of the coin, Carolina’s defense gives up the 17th most amount of yards per game, and are tied for 24th in points allowed per game at 25.5 per game. If the New Orleans Saints offense that has their “swagger” back shows up to play Monday, they will be in for a big day against the porous Carolina pass defense.

Carolina Panthers Offense against New Orleans Saints Defense

One would be remiss if Christian McCaffrey was not the first thing to be discussed when mentioning this Carolina offense. McCaffrey is a similar running back to Alvin Kamara, however does not have to split time in the backfield with another Pro Bowl back. As such, McCaffrey leads the NFL in receptions, and receiving yards for running backs. McCaffrey also has 13 total touchdowns, good for fourth in the NFL.

As good as McCaffrey is, he is where the Panthers’ offense stops. Cam Newton’s shoulder is not 100-percent, and was removed from the game in Week 13 when a Hail Mary pass was needed to win the game, he simply could not throw it far enough.

Furthermore, Greg Olsen is out for the season with a foot injury, while the receiving corps relies on rookie D.J. Moore to make plays. The Carolina Panthers will have to rely on Cam Newton to make the big plays in the air on Monday if they hope to beat the Saints.

The Saints have the best rushing defense in the league, and will be looking to limit McCaffrey’s contribution to the running game. Newton and company will have to take advantage of the Saints bottom of the barrel passing defense if they will have any hope in keeping up with Drew Brees and the normally prolific offense.

Touchdown Pass:

I predict the Saints will defeat the Panthers 30-17.

Brandon Marshall was released on Wednesday, but the door has not been shut on his return.

Marshall’s departure has caused speculation of a Ted Ginn Jr return from IR. However, Ginn would have to spend two weeks practicing before being allowed to participate in a game.

dark. Next. Decision time for Saints: Ted Ginn Jr. or Josh LeRibeus

Finally, Brees will need to play almost flawlessly the final three weeks to maintain a frontrunner MVP contender status. The six quarter anomaly and his two interceptions hindered his MVP case.