The Saints prepare for their first divisional game of the season against the Carolina Panthers. New Orleans comes into the game undefeated, while Carolina is looking for their first win of the season. History suggests this will be a difficult game, regardless of the victor.
Both teams come into the season with new starting quarterbacks. Derek Carr is entering his second game as a Saint, and Bryce Young is entering his second game as a pro. This is a showdown we could see between divisional rivals for the next few years. These are the pivotal matchups that will decide this game:
The offensive line struggled last week against the Tennessee Titans. Those struggles were headlined by left tackle Trevor Penning. The speed of Titans defensive end Arden Key gave Penning issues. Brian Burns comes in with the same lethal speed and agility off the endge. The Saints started to help Penning with chip blocks as the game went on, and it would be wise to use the same protocol at the beginning of this game.
Saints wide receivers vs. Panthers cornerbacks
The moment Jaycee Horn was ruled out for this game, the matchup between the Saints wide receivers and Panthers secondary became one to exploit. It was already a highlight matchup because of Horn’s talent level. However, his absence weakens the secondary to a point where New Orleans should attack this group early.
C.J. Henderson is now the Panthers’ lead corner. The triumvirate of Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed had a strong opener. Horn’s absence increases the chances for a repeat of Week 1 for the talented trio.
Bryce Young vs. Saints secondary
As a rookie quarterback, Young will be prone to making some mistakes. He threw two interceptions in his debut. The Saints defense had three interceptions of their own in Week 1. Those turnovers were pivotal last week, and they need to take advantage of a young quarterback still getting accustomed to the speed of the pro game.