The Carolina Panthers travel to the Big Easy for the season finale. This has been another season of disappointment. But the team seems to be trending upward and the team is in position to improve on last season’s 6-10 record. 7-9 is a long way from where most Panther fans viewed this team being back in September. With this season’s twists and turns, ups and downs, erraticism and inconsistency this Carolina team has grown and is playing it’s best football of 2012 .
The Saints have had a similarly disappointing season. Thought to be contenders in the NFC South, the Saints have fallen flat on their face this year. The reason appears to be the suspension of head coach Sean Payton, I don’t think anyone saw just how much he would be missed. That is why he was just awarded a 5 year $37.5 million dollar contract that will keep him in New Orleans and away from Dallas.
The Saints have continued to put up impressive numbers on the offensive side of the ball. Drew Brees is again at the top of the league’s quarterback rankings but to go along with his nearly 5,000 yards passing and 39 touchdown passes he does have 18 interceptions. 5 of those came in one game against Atlanta. Brees has also had games with 3 and 4 interceptions during this season. With those numbers he is still able to boast a quarterback rating of 94.9. The Saint’s are ranked 3rd in total yards this season but it has been largely in part to their prolific passing attack. Brees leads the #2 passing attack against the Panthers sometimes vulnerable and oft injury depleted secondary. The ground game has been missing this season ranking a surprisingly low 24th in the league. While the passing attack has been putting up impressive numbers the defense has been allowing some impressive performances of their own.
The Saints defense this season has been reminiscent of some of the Aint’s defenses of the past. They are just not good. The New Orleans defense is 31st against the pass, ranks near the top of the league in points allowed and dead last in total yards. The Saint’s are, however, very tough to run on. The defense ranks a more than respectable 4th against opponents rushing attacks. This will prove to be a good challenge for the Panthers. To see how well they are able to sustain the running game.
Both teams want to win this game. The Saint’s have revenge on their mind for an early season defeat suffered in Charlotte back during week 2 of 2012. That along with there being no chance for post season play, has both teams wanting to finish the season on a high note.
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