Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, October 25 – 1:00 ET at Mercedes Benz Stadium
Are the Panthers the Most Surprising Team of the Season?
For me, they have been one of the more surprising teams this year so far. They had changes all over the roster during the summer, drafting exclusively on the defensive side of the ball to replace some of the key players who left there. They also let Cam Newton leave, replacing him with Teddy Bridgewater. I thought they’d struggle to beat their 5.5 win-total set by the NFL Bookmakers in sportsbook websites. But they’ve been good on both sides of the ball.
Teddy Bridgewater has been more than adequate sitting at 15th according to QBR this season. He's slightly above average, and showing his wheels as well as rushing in a TD and over 20 yards per game on average. He’d played with new coach Matt Rhule in college, so it was a sensible selection for them and it seems to be paying off this early in the season.
He’s formed a good connection with Robby Anderson, another player who had been under Rhule while in college, and he’s come in as the leading receiver for the team after 6 games of the season. He’s had three 100 yard games, and a low of 55 yards so far this term while just the 1 TD. DJ Moore was expected to be the main man with Teddy’s supposed propensity for checking the ball down. He’s been good, just not in the numbers that most expected. Moore still on target for over 1,200 yards this year though.
The shock of the year is probably Mike Davis, who came in for the injured Christian McCaffrey with the team at 0-3, and he’s been the back during their 3-game win streak against the Chargers, Cardinals, and Falcons. He’s done well on the ground and through the air. He’s scored in every game he’s started this season, A cut-price CmcC or Alvin Kamara.
How Are the Saints Looking After Their Bye?
The Saints are sitting at 3-2 in the NFC South after wins against the Lions and the Chargers in recent weeks. They’ve been missing the league’s leading receiver from last year, Michael Thomas, for much of the season. At first because of an ankle sprain and then for disciplinary reasons after he punched a team-mate. He should have been back this week, but there’s talk of him now having a hamstring injury which is causing some concern. They are second favorites for the division according to NFL Oddsmakers.
Drew Brees doesn’t have the arm anymore. However, he’s dealt fairly well without his safety blanket there with Emmanuel Sanders stepping up in recent weeks with 93 and 122 yards in the last two wins. He and Trequan Smith have had decent games to keep them ticking over, while the tight end Jared Cook had a good game last week too.
The real reason they’ve been winning is Alvin Kamara, who looks back to his best after an injury-riddled season last year. He’s sitting at 675 scrimmage yards and 7 TDs so far this season. After finishing last week without a score, he’s had multiple TDs in 3 of their 5 games this season.
How Does This Game Pan Out?
The Saints coming off a bye week should be a threat to the Panthers, they’ll put up points with or without Michael Thomas. Sean Payton is one of the better coaches in the league so will have his team ready for this one. I think Thomas will be back for this one, but a new injury this week is a bit of a worry for him.
The Panthers will put up points. The Saints defense hasn’t been great this year while the Panthers are ticking along nicely on offense. They should be OK on defense as well, since they’ve been getting better as they settle into the season.
I think the Panthers keep it to around a touchdown. Surprisingly they’ve covered the spread in 3 of the last 4 games between the two teams.