Yes. Yes, Carolina can steal a win from the New Orleans Saints today. As the saying goes, “any given Sunday.” That’s not to say the Panthers can waltz in, play 15 minutes of football, and expect to come out with a W. They will have to play their asses off, and limit mistakes if not play an almost perfect game — 60 minutes.
I’ve seen improvements albeit slight from Carolina every week. Taking the defensive line as an example, its play has improved from the beginning of the season. It still hasn’t returned to its preseason form, but the improvements on a weekly basis are there.
The two biggest areas in need of vast improvement are from the receiving core and the offensive line. The offensive line hasn’t been a cohesive unit since preseason, and if it could manage to do a better job at protecting the quarterback and open lanes for the running game, at least then Carolina could have half of its offense able to work. But against a stout New Orleans defense, I don’t expect to see a whole lot from the running game, which means Jimmy Clausen and the wide receivers will have to strap it on today and make some plays.
On offense, mistakes must be kept to a minimum. It’s crucial for the offense to bring its A-game today. A loss suffered today, and Carolina can almost be assured of hearing talk about mailing it in, a winless season, etc.
Play on the defensive side of the ball has improved. As I stated earlier, slightly, but an improvement nonetheless. The defensive front once again, needs to improve on putting pressure on the quarterback. The Saints minus Reggie Bush, should limit the amount of carries by a running back, mainly giving the d-line concern on pressuring Drew Brees.
The defensive secondary needs to light it up and start making those missed interceptions count for something; if not six points, then at least for a turnover. Carolina has two very good cornerbacks and there’s no reason why neither should have a pick by this point in the season. For the defensive secondary, Drew Brees will be testing its poise for the majority of the game. Brees is quite possibly the best quarterback Carolina’s secondary will face this season.
In the end, I’m calling it. A Panthers win. I have this weird feeling that we will see an improved team in New Orleans today, especially if the ground game is able — allowed — to get something going. Perhaps not markedly improved, but improved enough to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.
Carolina 20, New Orleans 17.
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