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Game #4 Open Thread: Saints vs. Panthers

Saints (-3.5) vs. Panthers: 1PM EST, Louisiana Superdome, FOX
Stats through Week 4
Off. YPG (Rank) Off. PPG (Rank) Def. YPG (Rank) Def. PPG (Rank)
Saints 296 (25) 12.7 (30) 355.3 (26) 34.3 (32)
Panthers 322.3 (20) 20.5 (16) 347.8 (23) 21.8 (17)

The Saints haven't beaten the Panthers since September 11, 2005. Despite the fact that they are favored, they haven't been this much of an underdog since early 2006. And they seem to be using this as motivation.

Sean Payton's most recent motivational tactic was to bring an empty wagon on the practice field, to signify to players that everybody had jumped from their bandwagon. Time will tell whether this tactic brings back their fire, or reinforces their stunning ineptitude on both sides of the ball.

The Saints' lines must show up today. Offensively, they must protect Drew Brees and open holes for Reggie Bush. This Carolina defense doesn't seem to have the teeth of its predecessors: The Panthers cede 347 yards/game, 229 through the air and 118 on the ground. The Saints must capitolize on their apparent weakness.

Carolina's defense does have speed at linebacker. Reggie Bush must be willing to take the yardage that he is given. He must protect the ball.

Defensively, the Siants must pressure David Carr. Darr struggles when he faces pressure, so the Saints must generate a pass rush, whether it be with their line or blotzes.

The bandwagon may seem empty, but only because the Saints haven't given people a reason to jump on.