The Seattle Seahawks gave the New Orleans Saints more than they could bargain for on Monday night, holding one of the league’s most potent offenses to only 188 total yards. They accomplished that feat with a big boost from the 12th man but also by consistently winning on the edge with their defensive ends and getting pressure on Drew Brees, not to mention tackling well in space and keeping the YAC to a minimum. The Legion of Boom also made a big statement, bullying the Saints’ receivers with legal hits and making tremendous plays on the ball.
The Carolina Panthers won’t have all those elements working in their favor when they face the Saints on Sunday, but they will have a few pieces of the Seahawks’ blueprint. They won’t have any kind of home-field advantage, instead playing in the cacophonous riot of the Superdome, nor does the so-called “Legion of Whom” stack up physically or talent-wise with the Legion of Boom. They do, however, have the ability to rush the passer both on the outside and the inside with their vaunted defensive line. Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly are also some of the best cover linebackers in the league, and they excel at open field tackling.
The Saints’ offense is predicated on timing and creating good matchups as well as relying on the accuracy of Drew Brees. The Seahawks were able to disrupt the timing of the Saints’ receivers by pressing them off the line, something Carolina’s corners can’t do due to lack of size. Instead they will have to concentrate on destroying Brees’ accuracy by putting pressure on him, making sure that the timing is a moot point. In terms of matchups, the Panthers must do everything they can to keep Davis and Kuechly on Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles because no one else on the roster can cover them and take them down in open space. The Seahawks laid out the blueprint, and it is up to the Panthers to follow it as closely as possible.