With supremacy in the NFC South at stake, the Saints will march into Carolina and take top spot for themselves
When you’re put on a pedestal, it’s easy to knock you off. You’ve been praised all of the off-season for the positive moves you’ve made, people are predicting big things but you are there to be shot at. But despite a poor start for New Orleans Saints after being picked as potential Super Bowl contenders, a win last weekend could really kick-start their season.
The 3-4 Saints head to Carolina on Thursday night just behind their 3-4-1 NFC South rivals, and it should be considered a must-win game if they want to beat the Panthers to winning the division. Both teams will know that with them sitting first and second with their records, it’s highly likely that only one will get into the post-season and at this moment, the favourites are Sean Payton’s New Orleans team.
They pulled off a big win against a Green Bay side that many thought they would struggle against, and head into this one full of confidence as a result. The Panthers, on the other hand, have lost four and drawn one of their last six, and whilst they will know the importance of a win, you just can’t see them getting out of their slump.
With a weakened defence without Greg Hardy that was so pivotal last season, look for Drew Brees to pick them apart with surgeon-like precision and pull the Saints to the top of the division. Take the -2 handicap at 87/100, they are on fire offensively and with their defence slowly finding their feet again, they should make it a difficult afternoon for Cam Newton and company.
As for first touchdown scorers, Jimmy Graham is a regular target in the redzone with his play-making skills at the tight-end position and expect him to be a menace again in this one. He’s not hit the heights that he’s shown previously but this will be his break-out game, even against one of the best middle linebackers in Luke Kuechly and you shouldn’t ignore the former college basketball star making a difference again.
Drew Brees is a top five QB in the NFL, able to carve through defences like a knife through butter and after putting on a clinic against a good Packers team, he’s in the right form and frame of mind to do it again against Carolina. Take the Saints to score over 40 points, their offence has so many weapons that they should plow through a sorry Panther’s secondary.