New Orleans Saints versus Carolina: 4 Panthers that can ruin Week 2

New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Saints
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Christian McCaffrey is someone the New Orleans Saints better keep tabs on.

It brings us great displeasure to talk about the only running back in the league who is better than our prized Alvin Kamara: CMC.

But it’s our duty as sportswriters to be unbiased about these kinds of things, so expect the next paragraph to be mildly congratulatory.

Christian McCaffrey is your better-than-average running back. He has great speed and pass-catching abilities. He has recorded many rushing yards in his past three seasons in Carolina, and he won some honors for his 2019 performance in particular.

He also happens to be the player who can hurt New Orleans the most.

Heading into Sunday, New Orleans has a slight problem at linebacker. Demario Davis will try to cover McCaffrey as much as he can, but he’ll likely get scrambled up in different offensive plays. Other Saints’ linebackers have been ruled out due to injury (Kwon Alexander, Pete Werner, Chase Hansen), which leaves many (too many) snaps for Zach Baun.

In Baun’s defense, he covered the Packers well in Week 1. Carolina’s running game, though, is a different beast altogether.

The Panthers’ offense thrives in the middle of the field, where Darnold and McCaffrey can mix it up with play-action passes as well as, obviously, running the ball. McCaffrey is coming back from an injury-plagued 2020 season, so there’s hope that he might not be in his best form in Week 2.

Against the Jets, he rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries and no score, much to the dismay of fantasy football managers everywhere.

Regardless, Baun and other defenders will be put to the ultimate test to catch CMC, and we couldn’t be more nervous about this potential matchup.

New Orleans last faced a healthy Christian McCaffrey twice in late 2019, when the Saints won both games and contained McCaffrey to no more than one touchdown a game.

Historically, he has been most effective against the Saints as a receiver, which is shocking given CMC’s running dominance but also somewhat promising for New Orleans.

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In seven career games against the Saints, McCaffrey has averaged only 3.2 yards per carry but averaged 10.3 yards per catch. McCaffrey also has a pair of 100-yard receiving efforts against NOLA that he can add to his “Why I’m Better Than Kamara” spiel — honestly, we wouldn’t be mad if this game just turned into a McCaffrey vs. Kamara talent showcase.

This Sunday, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on No. 22 in blue. We hope the Saints’ defense does so, too.