It’s Wild Card Week and the New Orleans Saints are back in the postseason! And just like that, we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Bradley Smith of Cat Scratch Reader answers 5 quick questions before Panthers vs Saints Part III.
So the old adage goes “It’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.” What about this Panthers team gives you hope that this third encounter will be different than the previous two that went in the Saints favor?
Two things give me hope.
- Cam Newton plays his best when the world doubts him. He also tends to play out of this world the week after he plays terribly (like he did last week against the Falcons). I think Cam can put the team on his shoulders and carry them to an upset win.
- Greg Olsen will play in this game. He wasn’t available for the Panthers in either of the first two matchups, and I think Cam will find ways to use him to produce points.
Cam Newton has really struggled as a passer for long stretches this season. How much is that on poor play from the offensive line, how much is not having a solid group of receivers, and how much is on Cam himself?
It’s a combination of a lot of things, and I’d say the biggest issue for Cam is a lack of quality receivers. Brenton Bersin is our de facto #2 wide receiver at the moment, and that’s not a situation you want to see yourself in when you’re trying to win in the playoffs. I do think the offensive line needs some work, and I also think that Cam has had some rough games where he was to blame, but the biggest issue plaguing the Panthers right now is he simply doesn’t have anyone to throw to who can get open.
Do you think the announced sale of the team has caused a distraction for the team or fans in spite of a potential playoff run?
They’ll never admit it, but yes ... I think it’s been a distraction. They haven’t been the same since the announcement was made.
Which lesser-known player on each side of the ball do you expect to make the biggest impact for the Panthers?
On offense I think we’ll see an impact from Brenton Bersin. I say that because we don’t have many guys left on offense who are both unknown and can make an impact at this point.
On defense, I like what Mike Adams is doing. Despite being 148 years old (he’s 37 for real) he played some good snaps against Julio Jones last week. I think there’s a chance we see more of the same from him against the Saints this week.
Final predictions for the game? Score?
I think the Panthers are going to shock everyone and steal a win. I almost have to pick for my team because of course I do, but I genuinely think they’ll show up and do the unexpected. Every time we start to doubt them they surprise us, and every time we start to believe in them they disappoint us. Them winning this game would be the most 2017 (or 2018) thing ever.
Final score prediction: Panthers 31 - Saints 27
Thank-you, Bradley, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Bradley and the work the rest of the writers are doing over at Cat Scratch Reader. You can follow Cat Scratch Reader on Twitter @CatScratchReadr, Bradely @bdubsmitty, and as always you can follow me @dunnellz.