The New Orleans Saints host the Carolina Panthers to ring in the New Year. Last Monday night, the Saints had an offensive performance that was downright, well, offensive. With playoff hopes fading, the Saints must win their final two games and get a little help. The first task is for the Saints to avenge their Week 2 loss against the division rival Panthers. That loss to the Panthers came at Carolina, but this rematch takes place in the Superdome.
The old adage has always claimed “Home Sweet Home”, but the Caesars Superdome has been anything but sweet for the Saints this season, as they have lost all but one game at home, the lone win coming against Tampa in Week 8. The sweetness of the Dome has turned quite sour in 2021, but as we enter 2022, hopefully that old homefield advantage will return in the Saints’ home finale.
Let’s take a look at this game as well as the rest of the Week 17 schedule this New Year’s weekend!
Last week I went 8-8
I told you so: Bengals over Ravens!
What do I know: Saints over Dolphins?
Sunday, January 2nd - Early Games
Eagles(8-7) at Washington FT(6-9)
Philly’s dangerous rushing attack will again dominate the Washington defense, controlling time of possession, controlling the game itself. Philadelphia wins 20-14.
Rams(11-4) at Ravens(8-7)
The trio of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald will prove too much for Baltimore to handle. Los Angeles wins 33-26.
Buccaneers(11-4) at Jets(4-11)
Tampa’s top-ranked passing attack will have their way with the NFL’s worst defense at MetLife. Tampa wins 32-14.
Dolphins(8-7) at Titans(10-5)
Ryan Tannehill will have a monster game against his former franchise, torching Miami with his talented receivers, making for a very long day for the Dolphins, who see their win streak come to an abrupt end. Tennessee wins 37-14.
Jaguars(2-13) at Patriots(9-6)
Behind a dominant defensive effort, New England rebounds from a tough loss a week ago. New England wins 28-7.
Raiders(8-7) at Colts(9-6)
The Indy rushing attack will outplay the Vegas passing attack in this matchup of playoff hopefuls in Indy. Indianapolis wins 33-23.
Chiefs(11-4) at Bengals(9-6) - Game of the Week
This showdown of Patrick Mahomes vs. Joe Burrow will be every bit as exciting as advertised. Ultimately, the more seasoned Mahomes will get his team in position for the game-winning field goal in the closing moments, much to the dismay of the capacity Cincy crowd. Kansas City wins 26-24.
Giants(4-11) at Bears(5-10)
Chicago will control this game on the ground and behind a strong defensive effort. Chicago wins 21-19.
Falcons(7-8) at Bills(9-6)
Upset Alert! After completing one of the biggest wins of their season, Buffalo will suffer an emotional letdown against an Atlanta team fighting for the NFC’s final Wild Card spot. Matt Ryan will lead his team with a big game against the NFL’s top-ranked defense in snowy Buffalo. It will come down to a late field goal to seal the win for Atlanta as time expires. Atlanta wins 27-26.
Sunday, January 2nd - Late Games
Fresh off a fantastic performance a week ago, Houston comes crashing back to earth at San Francisco. San Francisco wins 30-6.
Broncos(7-8) at Chargers(8-7)
Following a brutal loss a week ago, the Bolts rebound behind a clutch performance by Justin Herbert against the challenging Denver defense. Los Angeles wins 25-21.
Lions(2-12-1) at Seahawks(5-10)
Russell Wilson will have a vintage performance in hopefully his final home game in Seattle. Seattle wins 27-10.
Cardinals(10-5) at Cowboys(11-4)
With their eyes on the NFC’s top seed, Dallas wins a tough game against the freefalling Cards. Dallas wins 28-21.
Panthers(5-10) at Saints(7-8)
The Saints offense hit rock bottom on Monday night, due to a myriad of factors that have piled up over the course of the season, culminating in an offense that primarily consisted of backups, reserves, and some players that were signed just as the game approached. Thankfully, the team is getting quite a few players back on both sides of the ball, and not a moment too soon.
The Panthers have been hit with their own roster losses due to COVID protocols but will see players return in time for this game, as is usually the Saints’ luck. Carolina’s offense has also fallen into the abyss since their win at Arizona in Week 10. Looking to find something to change their fortunes, they move the struggling Cam Newton to the bench and bring back Sam Darnold at quarterback, the same Darnold who beat the Saints way back in Week 2.
Both the Saints and Panthers are not the same teams that faced each other early in the season. The Saints are fighting for their playoff lives while Carolina is looking to see where they will be drafting this spring. The Saints offense, with Taysom Hill and Deonte Harris will be much better than the one we saw against Miami, but the offensive line may actually be worse. This game will be ugly and potentially unwatchable thanks to both offenses, but the Saints defense will keep the team’s playoff hopes alive in a tense and close thriller. If you love offense, find another game. If you appreciate defensive football, don't change the channel. This one will come down to the wire, but the Saints will mercifully find a way to win a game at home. Saints win 17-14.
Sunday Night Football
Vikings(7-8) at Packers(12-3)
Aaron Rodgers keeps Green Bay in the NFC’s top spot by outshining Dalvin Cook, ending Minnesota’s two-game winning streak against the Pack. Green Bay wins 32-22.
Monday, January 3rd- Monday Night Football Season Finale
In what will likely be Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game at Heinz Field, the Steelers fall short against Cleveland due to a failed two-point conversion that would have tied the game late. Cleveland wins 27-25.
The Saints can bring some optimism to 2022 by ringing in the New Year with a win. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below! Happy New Year, Who Dat Nation!