Panthers Offense vs Saints Defense
The strength of the Panthers right now resides with their offense, which ranks 11th in yards per play.
Considering that they rank just 26th in Pro Football Focus offense grade, a lot of the credit has to go to Joe Brady.
You might remember Brady from his time with New Orleans as an offensive assistant, in addition to him calling plays for the historic LSU offense last season. Overall, he runs a very similar system to Sean Payton, which would explain why they brought in Bridgewater.
With just a 6.9 average depth of target, per NFL Next Gen Stats, Bridgewater is definitely one of the more conservative passers in the NFL. Thus, a lot of pressure is placed on receivers DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel to generate yardage after the catch.
Anderson ranks near the top of the league with 6.1 yards after the catch, while Moore ranks right behind him (5.4).
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How will the Saints slow them down?
In that sense, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is one of the better tackling corners in the NFL, but between Janoris Jenkins, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Marcus Williams, I wouldn’t call New Orleans’ secondary proficient when it comes to tackling.
On the bright side, their vulnerabilities generally have come with being beaten down the field, so Bridgewater’s conservativeness should play into their favor.
With Marcus Davenport back into the fold, the pass rush is in a much better position to succeed. Unfortunately, Bridgewater has only been pressured on 25.4% of his dropbacks, which makes sense; he gets rid of the ball quickly in the short passing game.
Ultimately, this will come down to Saints’ ability to limit Anderson and Moore. Right now, their pass defense has not yielded great results, but they also rank 26th in third-down conversion rate allowed, which generally is a fluky statistic that evens out over time.
Additionally, Bridgewater’s 3.66% turnover-worthy play rate doesn’t match up with only three interceptions, which also should regress back to the mean.
In a perfect world, both of those regressions would happen in this game, and although you cannot guarantee an evening out over the small sample size of one game, it is something to keep a close eye on.