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Panthers @ Saints: HansDat's Hot Reads

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I want to see a lot of this occurring near the line of scrimmage today.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
I want to see a lot of this occurring near the line of scrimmage today. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon! (ok, that's enough of that)

Here's a link to the full lyrics of that song in both English and Scots with pronunciation guides. Knock yourself out.

Happy New Year, CSC!! It's the beginning of a glorious new year with new possibilities, new hope, and best of all, new calendars!! (any other calendar/organizer/Levenger nerds out there?...anyone?) Hopefully you are hanging in there and hydrating if you celebrated a little too much last night - you gotta get ready for gameday, people!!

Let's start 2012 off with a bang and make it count since we may not even be here next year at this time. The Saints and Panthers tee it up at 1:00 EST today with a 13th win, some NFL and franchise records, and a possible # 2 seed in the NFC playoffs at stake for the Saints, while respectability and spoiler goals are in play for the Panthers.

Sean Payton says they're playing to win today. Well, that's good, because so am I, and so are my Hot Reads.

Feels like it's been a looong time since we last did this - way back in 2011, I think it was, so let's get right to it!!

** We can use this area as our pre-pre-pre-game open thread discussion zone until the actual game thread opens up. How are you feeling about this game? How did you ring in 2012? What's your gameday gear and meal situation? **

Panthers vs Saints coverage

Panthers vs Saints preview

Primary Option

Week 17, and it's the same old story on this one. This team goes nowhere if it cannot PROTECT DREW BREES.

Last time they played, the Saints were giving up 2.2 sacks per game and a sack every 19.9 pass attempts, and in the game itself, they allowed 2 sacks and two QB hits. This time around, the Saints have improved their protection numbers a bit, and are now allowing 1.6 sacks per game and one sack every 25.9 pass attempts.

The DEs have recorded more than half of the 31 total sacks for Carolina this year, with Charles Johnson leading the team with nine, and next are Greg Hardy and Thomas Keiser, with four each. Johnson was listed as doubtful with a back problem on Friday's injury report, so the Saints might catch a break there.

What I'd Like To See: Protection commensurate with their current averages (and if he throws a lot, it needs to be even better): a maximum of one sack and a couple of hits, and a combination of good line blocking, chips on the ends, solid running game, and some more of Brees's patented fancy footwork to allow him the time to do what he needs to do through the air to move the ball and win this game.


Checkdown # 1

Carolina loves to run and they are pretty good at it (3rd in the NFL averaging nearly 150 rushing yards per game), so the Saints really need to do whatever they can to CAGE THE CATS' RUNNING GAME.

The three-headed running attack consists of RBs DeAngelo Williams (783 yards, 7 TDs), Jonathan Stewart (682, 3), and then QB Cam Newton (674, 14), and against the Saints on October 9, they combined for 162 yards and 2 TDs. Williams did most of the damage (115 yards and a TD), but Cam did get a short yardage TD run.

What I'd Like To See: This time, I'm calling on the newly-confident run defense to lock down the Panthers running game to under 100 yards and hold it to 1 TD.


Checkdown # 2

THIRD DOWN SHUTDOWN - On the season, Carolina has converted 75 of 180 third downs (42%). Do you know how many they converted against the Saints in Week 5? Seven out of 12. That's 58%, for Pete's sake! 58%! No way can they allow that to happen again.

What I'd Like To See: The Saints defense getting off the field at least two out of three times on third down.


Safety Valve

The Panthers are giving up 125+ yards per game, and last time, the Saints could only muster 101 yards and one Mark Ingram 1-yard TD on 28 carries. The Saints have been running the ball much better as of late, and 3.6 yards per carry is just not going to cut it, so they need to continue to RUN BIG OR GO HOME.

What I'd Like To See: Around five yards per carry, a couple of rushing TDs, and 120+ rushing yards from the Saints ground game.


Bonus Hot Read

In their last meeting, the Saints gave up at least four plays of 20 or more yards, and two of them went for TDs (Steve Smith's 54-yard catch and run [followed by Roman Harper's late hit] and DeAngelo William's 69-yard run), so they need to TAKE AWAY THE BIG PLAY.

What I'd Like To See: The Saints defense give up no plays of over 20 yards, especially no scoring plays over 20 yards.