When the Carolina Panthers take the field for Sunday Night Football in week 14 versus the New Orleans Saints, there are going to be serious NFL Playoff implications and a ton of excitement surrounding the matchup. The winner of Sunday night’s game will be in the driver’s seat to win the NFC South and, subsequently, make the postseason with just three games remaining.
For the Panthers, this game will pit their greatest strength against the Saints’ biggest strength. While Cam Newton and the Carolina offense have to be optimistic after seeing what Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks were able to do to the Saints this past week, there’s no doubt that the matchup to watch is the Panthers’ defense up against New Orleans’ high-powered offense.
The Panthers have easily been one of the most impressive defensive teams in the NFL this season, as I’ve talked about on numerous occasions. Their 13.1 points allowed per game is the best mark in the league and they are second in the NFL in total yards allowed per game at 289.8. Meanwhile, the Saints rank seventh in the league in scoring and sixth in the league in total yards per game.
When it comes to the Saints, you know that they are going to derive much of their success through Drew Brees and the passing game. What’s interesting about that, though, is that this will really be the biggest test that the Panthers’ secondary has faced this season.
Over their current eight-game winning streak, the Panthers haven’t exactly faced many potent pass offenses. While you could argue that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots fit that mold, Brady and the Pats haven’t been on the level of Brees and the Saints this season. Moreover, the Panthers will be in the Superdome on Sunday night where Brees and New Orleans have been prolific.
The Panthers secondary has made several big plays throughout the year, but they haven’t faced an offense of this caliber. There’s no denying anymore that the Panthers are for real and will most likely be in the playoffs regardless of if they win the division, but it will be interesting to see how they rise to the occasion in their biggest test yet.