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Saints vs Panthers: Key Matchups in Week 17

Key matchups which could determine the outcome of this Week 17 game

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Taysom Hill is back, again
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints head into Week 17 of the NFL regular season hanging onto playoff hopes. Sitting at 7-8 on the season, with two games remaining, the Saints have a good chance to make the post-season if these last two games are wins. Taysom Hill and multiple Saints players are back after missing last week’s game due to the virus list. This includes defensive stalwarts like Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander as well. The whole team will need to play complementary football in order to finish this playoff push. These are some of the key matchups for the Saints and the Carolina Panthers which could decide the winner of this divisional game.

Saints defense versus Sam Darnold

The Saints defense owe the Panthers offense, including quarterback Sam Darnold. Earlier this season, the Panthers got to face a Saints team that was ravaged by injury and Covid-19 issues. The Panthers easily won this game, putting up 26 points against a thin Saints defense. In that game, Darnold passed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Darnold spread the ball around, with six different players catching three passes or more. The Saints will be looking to show Darnold and the Panthers that they did not play the real Saints defense earlier this year.

Players who missed the last game for the Saints included Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, Kwon Alexander, Pete Werner, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. These are some of the top players for the Saints defense. Without these players, the Panthers offense looked incredible. That will likely not be the case this week. The Saints will be as healthy as they have been this year. Although, that does not mean much for a Saints team that has had terrible luck with injury and virus issues this year. With this defense looking for revenge though, the Saints will be looking to show Darnold and the Panthers that the team they faced earlier this year was not the same team they face this week.

Poll

Can the Saints win out and make the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    If they have all their players available, yes!
    (190 votes)
  • 35%
    No. Even with Taysom Hill the offense sucks!
    (159 votes)
  • 17%
    Why make the playoffs if it’s just to go one-and-out?
    (79 votes)
  • 5%
    No burgers for this offense, that was a putrid display.
    (25 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now

Saints offensive line versus Panthers pass rush

The Saints could go into this game with a patched-together offensive line unit. Tackle Terron Armstead is still dealing with a knee injury, one that will likely last the rest of the season. Center Erik McCoy has been on the virus list but has a chance to play in the game. The other tackle, Ryan Ramczyk has been both injured and on the virus list lately. The Saints could get any of these players back in time for this week's game but going into the game, their statuses are unknown. Against a good Panthers pass rush, the Saints will need all the help they can get. The Panthers are currently tied for 13th overall in the NFL for sacks at 36 total. If the Saints want to win this game, they will need whoever starts to step up and hold off the Panthers rushers.

Miami Dolphins v New Orleans Saints
The Saints receivers will need to click with Taysom Hill and move the ball
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Saints offense against Panthers secondary

There is only one team that allows fewer yards a game against the pass than the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers give up just 183 yards each game. When it comes to touchdowns though, the Panthers are middle of the pack. If teams can get to the red zone, then scoring against the Panthers is not as difficult. The team also does not get interceptions often. On the year, the Panthers have just nine total interceptions. Just seven teams have fewer interceptions. The Saints offense will need to use this to their advantage and attack the Panthers secondary.

Taysom Hill will once again be under center for the Saints. After missing last week’s game due to the virus list, Hill will have to try and stabilize the Saints offense once again. Hill looked rusty in his last start, passing for just 154 yards and a 48% passing completion. That game was also played with few receivers available for the Saints. Deonte Harris will be back for this week’s game. With the recent emergence of Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Marquez Callaway, the Saints will have their most depth at receiver in the past month. Hill and the pass-catchers will need to show that they can sustain this Sean Payton offense in order to make the playoffs this year.


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