Keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers vs. Saints in Week 17.
It might be the final game of the 2020 season. But there is still plenty at stake when the Carolina Panthers host the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. A win for Sean Payton’s men could lock up the No. 1 seed if the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers and there has been plenty of drama in the build-up thanks to an alleged COVID-19 protocol breach by star running back Alvin Kamara.
The All-Pro candidate was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with backup Latavius Murray and others also unavailable due to the close contact rule. This has the potential to throw a spanner in the works and the Carolina Panthers head into the contest with plenty of confidence following their morale-boosting triumph at the Washington Football Team last time out.
Head coach Matt Rhule is preaching a need for his young roster to familiarize themselves with winning football in December, despite the cries from large sections of the team’s fanbase to improve their 2021 NFL Draft position. Tanking is a nice option in theory, but with so many players fighting for their futures, the likelihood they’d be throwing in the towel was slim at best.
Here are four keys to victory for the Panthers as they look to finish the season on a high ahead of another crucial offseason period in the coming months.
Key to Victory No. 1
Make Drew Brees think twice
Drew Brees shredded the Panthers during their first contest in Week 7. But the aging signal-caller has far more questions surrounding him heading into what could be his last shot at winning another Super Bowl.
The legendary quarterback is back in the lineup and not exactly looking his best after multiple broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Brees has been tentative as he looks to get back in the groove in time for the postseason. But if Carolina can continue to generate the sort of pressure they have of late, it is sure to come with more mistakes than usual.
This will have to be done without Brian Burns, who looks set to miss the game through injury. However, the defensive front did a good job when the stud edge rusher wasn’t on the field last weekend and this should give them plenty of confidence.