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 /
6 of 6
Carolina Panthers
(Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) Chris Olave /

Carolina Panthers must keep the Saints’ skill players quiet

When the Carolina Panthers beat down the New Orleans Saints in the corresponding fixture a year ago, they had a lack of offensive weapons compared to what Matt Rhule’s men will see on Sunday. Running back Alvin Kamara was held in check in 2021, but the receiving room was one not filled with high-quality NFL talent as the No. 1 that day was Lil’Jordan Humphrey who is currently on the New England Patriots practice squad.

Fast forward 12 months and the Saints’ wideout options are unrecognizable. The prolific Michael Thomas is healthy again – which sets up a tantalizing matchup with Jaycee Horn – and the Saints also acquired Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave via free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft earlier this spring.

This wide receiving core will be much improved from the unit that the Panthers dominated a year ago. Simply put, it will be a much sterner test and one that will go a long way to determining the overall outcome.

Horn rebounded from a disappointing season opener with an impressive performance in Week 2, but this will be the toughest test of his short NFL career to date. Despite struggling with injuries in recent times, Thomas is still an elite performer who was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.

With quarterback Jameis Winston nursing ankle and back complications, New Orleans might lean on Kamara providing he is healthy enough to participate. The Panthers can take heart from shutting him down last season, but they’ll need another similar performance to keep the former Tennessee star quiet.

Must Read. 4 bold predictions for the Carolina Panthers vs. Saints in Week 3. light