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You know you’ve done something wrong when you piss off one of the nicest, most beloved members of a community. So, we’re sorry, Lynn . . .
I don’t like your analysis on this! 😡
Hope you have to eat your words.
— Legacy Lines (Lynn) (@LegacyLines) September 18, 2021
We’re also sorry, to the Carolina Panthers and the rest of their fans, for not keeping the faith in their chances against the New Orleans Saints. If you read our weekly predictions for the game, you know what we’re talking about.
And if you don’t, well, allow us to take out our finest silverware and eat our words about this matchup for breakfast. This is for you, Lynn.
The “Keep Pounding” prompts will return
We’ll get this one out of the way right from the jump.
After a controversial move (or non-move) by the team in not playing the traditional “Keep Pounding” prompts on the Bank of America Stadium video boards last week, the organization battlecry makes its return. Because if they don’t, the fans might bum-rush owner David Tepper’s box mid-game.
Outcome: Correct. This was a gimme, but we’ll take what we can get this week.
New K Zane Gonzalez is tested early, passes with Panthers’ first points of the game
The Panthers have a difficult time snapping out of those pesky red-zone woes and give Gonzalez a chance in the first quarter. A decent drive is stalled and the new guy starts their scoring with a 46-yard field goal.
Outcome: Incorrect. The first Panthers points came on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Darnold to wideout Brandon Zylstra on the team’s very first drive. Plus, Gonzalez failed one of his first tests on a blocked 50-yard field goal attempt.
Speaking of early, Saints score a first-quarter touchdown
Carolina’s defense was absolutely electric in Week 1, totaling six sacks and limiting New York to a measly 45 rushing yards. The Saints, however, are kinda sorta a little bit better than the Jets. New Orleans cracks the end zone courtesy of running back Alvin Kamara, who already has six career touchdowns in six career games against the Panthers.
Outcome: Incorrect. The Saints almost scored zero touchdowns. It took them 23 seconds into the fourth quarter to finally find the end zone, as quarterback Jameis Winston squeezed in an 8-yard run for the score. Plus, Kamara only went for 30 total yards.
The Saints also cough up a turnover in the first half
Quarterback Jameis Winston’s performance was as immaculate as a five-touchdown, 148-yard passing performance can get in Week 1. But he’s not fully redeemed just yet. The turnover-prone side of the former No. 1 overall pick shows up in the first half on a strip-sack caused by defensive end Marquis Haynes.
Outcome: Correct. Jameis also squeezed in that turnover in the first half. Safety Juston Burris halted a late drive by picking off a pass intended for receiver Deonte Harris at the Carolina 6-yard line.
Sam Darnold joins the turnover trend with his first interception of the season
New Orleans clamped down on Aaron Rodgers last week, especially on the deep ball. The reigning Most Valuable Player was 1-of-4 with an interception on passes of at least 20 yards downfield. Darnold, who was pick-free in his debut, gets a little froggy trying to connect on another bomb to wideout Robby Anderson and finds new Saints corner Bradley Roby instead.
Outcome: Correct. Initially ruled as a fumble, Darnold coughed up an ill-advised interception in the third quarter that set the Saints up at the Panthers’ 18-yard line. Luckily for Carolina, the poor decision did not come back to bite them.
But he still does find the end zone (just once, though)
The Panthers will play it close for much of the contest. That’ll be helped, in part, by Darnold picking up his second touchdown throw of the season. He hits tight end and former Saint Dan Arnold for a score.
Outcome: Incorrect. He did find the end zone. But he found it twice. Once to that aforementioned score to Zylstra and another to DJ Moore before the break. Moore finished with a game-high 79 receiving yards on eight grabs.
And so does Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey was a touchdown machine in 2020. Well, he was a touchdown machine in the games he actually played in. In his three outings last season, the superstar back chalked up a total of six scores.
He didn’t get one, perhaps surprisingly, in the opener, but gets on the board with a 23-yard run into the paint.
Outcome: Correct. McCaffrey effectively capped off the game with his first score of the season. The touchdown came on an 11-yard run and gave the Panthers a 23-7 lead with 5:53 left in the game.
. . . who finishes with at least 150 scrimmage yards
New Orleans was awfully stingy in Week 1, limiting Packers two-way threat Aaron Jones to just nine rushing yards and 13 receiving yards. But McCaffrey is not Jones, and is too much of a safety net for Darnold and the Panthers offense not to get his. It’s another busy day for No. 22.
Outcome: Incorrect. He finished at 137 yards from scrimmage, with 72 on the ground and 65 through the air.
Panthers finish with half as many sacks as last week
Again, defensive coordinator Phil Snow has himself an electric group that takes advantage of numerous exotic looks. They’ll get home a few times, because they’re too good and too deep not to.
The Saints’ offensive line, however, is also good. Winston was pressured on just three of his drop backs in the opener. They’ll keep him relatively clean, allowing three sacks to the Panthers.
Outcome: Incorrect. Eh, almost. The Panthers one-upped us with four sacks. They pressured Winston all day, hitting him on 11 of his 22 drop backs.
Panthers lose (by about two scores)
Carolina won’t go down quick in this one, but the Saints pull away with a strong 20 minutes to close out the game and a double-digit win.
Outcome: Incorrect. The Panthers won . . . by more than two scores.