New Orleans Saints game previews: Week 1 vs. Carolina Panthers

Our New Orleans Saints game previews kick off with Week 1’s opener against the Carolina Panthers. How much help does Bryce Young have? What’s different about the Panthers from the last time they crossed paths with the Saints? And how does this game impact the all-time series history between the two rivals?

Let’s start with the obvious. Neither of the two head coaches leading Carolina in 2023’s games against the Saints will be patrolling the opposite sideline this time — not after Frank Reich was fired at midseason and replaced by interim coach Chris Tabor. The Panthers recruited former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator and Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales as their new head coach, envisioning him as the mentor Bryce Young needs to adjust to life in the NFL.

Young could use the help. His rookie year was rough by every measure after the Panthers traded up to the top of the 2023 draft to pick him. He only completed 59.8% of his pass attempts (31st) while scoring 11 touchdown passes (28th), throwing 10 interceptions (tied for 13th-most) along the way. His 5.5 yards per pass attempt ranked lowest among the league’s 32  starting quarterbacks.

To help him, the Panthers signed free agents like offensive guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, and inside linebacker Josey Jewell while trading for wideout Diontae Johnson. They were without the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft after trading it to get Young, but Carolina drafted wide receiver Xavier Legette (South Carolina) and running back Jonathon Brooks (Texas) to get him more help.

There will be a lot of new faces on Carolina’s sideline, but one constant is defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. He was retained by Canales after coaching up a defense which ranked sixth-best in yards per play (4.9) despite bagging a league-low 11 takeaways. While his run defense needs improvement  — the Panthers allowed 25 touchdown runs, more than anyone else — they also need to do a better job getting after the quarterback. Carolina’s 27 sacks were the lowest total in the league, and they traded their  best pass rusher Brian Burns (who accounted for 8 of those sacks) to the New York Giants. Evero will be leaning hard on those veteran free agents to right the ship.

As for the all-time series history? The Saints lead the Panthers 31-28, including the playoffs, with back-to-back wins last season. That’s after Carolina won three out of four games against New Orleans between 2021 and 2022. Starting the 2024 season with a win and setting good vibes right away would be big. Everything starts in September.

  • Game information: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

  • Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, La.

  • Date: Sept. 8

  • Time: Noon CT/ 1p.m. ET

  • TV Channel: FOX

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire