5 critical factors that will decide the Panthers vs. Saints in Week 3

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /
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What are some critical factors that will go some way to deciding the outcome of a pivotal week 3 divisional matchup for the Carolina Panthers?

The Carolina Panthers are already entering must-win territory despite it only being Week 3 of the season. Matt Rhule’s men are looking to win a first home game in more than a year against the New Orleans Saints, which would be a full-circle scenario after hammering their NFC South rivals 26-7 in 2021.

Carolina’s triumph a season ago was built on solid offense and a lights-out defensive unit that made Jameis Winston’s afternoon a torrid one. The quarterback was sacked four times, picked off twice, and threw for just 111 passing yards as the Panthers saw the player who was so turnover prone during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The pressure is firmly on Rhule after an 0-2 start. Certainly from the fanbase who are growing tired of cheering losing football.

During media availability on Wednesday, we saw Panthers players going to bat for their coach. Robbie Anderson defended Rhule, stating that he was “playing this game for him” and again called out fans who booed at games previously

Considering that supporters spend hundreds of dollars on tickets for the game and have walked away happy just 10 times in the Rhule era, they have every right to voice their displeasure. If Anderson doesn’t want fans booing, losing 10 straight games will do no favors this weekend.

The pressure is on and the atmosphere could get ugly if things don’t improve. With this in mind, here are five critical factors that will decide Sunday’s game at Bank of America Stadium.