Boy, did the New Orleans Saints blow an opportunity. They got mauled away from home in the dome by the St. Louis Rams last Sunday in what was a true set back. Robert Quinn abused left tackle Charles Brown which forced Sean Payton to make a change at the position.
In comes rookie Terron Armstead to man the all-important left tackle position, and is responsible for protecting Drew Brees‘ blindside. Good luck young fella, you will need it. He will have the misfortune of trying to block ferocious Carolina Panther pass rushers Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. It may not be pretty.
Another change Payton and the Saints made was at place kicker. Out is previous Super Bowl hero Garrett Hartley. In is veteran Shayne Graham. I must say, to make this many significant roster changes as a playoff contender, no less this late in the season, is pretty unprecedented.
The Saints seem to be in a state of flux right now. I am sure the Panthers are sensing that weakness and will prey on it, especially in their home confines. This Saints team is simply totally different away from home. Brees is less effective and their is less of an aura and intimidation factor about them.
This Panthers’ defense will come to play, make no mistake about it. Cam Newton is also in position to make a statement that he really has arrived as an elite young quarterback. This is the game of the week.
The Panthers win and they all but seal the division and a likely No. 2 seed. It may be tight, but the Panthers and that stingy defense will prove to be too much for a reeling Saints team to overcome.
Final prediction? 30-20, Panthers.