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Our offense vs their defense: Carolina Panthers

New Orleans will likely be without Derek Carr in this game.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping to 5-7, the New Orleans Saints will stay at home and host the 1-11 Carolina Panthers this Sunday.

The Saints offense started the game last week very slow, but after falling behind 21-0, the offense found a spark. After his first pass was taken back for a pick six, Derek Carr went on a 17-for-21 completion streak for 226 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately for him, Carr would get injured on a nasty roughing the passer penalty and his status is in doubt with a concussion and rib injury.

No matter what you think about Carr, it sucks to see him go down with his second concussion in a month, but with Carr likely out, it seems we’ll get a full week of the Jameis Winston experience.

With Winston under center, there’s no doubt the offense will at least attempt to be more explosive, but Winston is seriously going to have to find a way to take care of the football. When you face a team that’s 1-11 and hasn’t looked very competitive, the last thing you need to do it turn the ball over a couple of times and let them hang around.

For the receivers, we know Michael Thomas is out, but we don’t have any word on Rashid Shaheed’s status yet. If Shaheed can go, it will give this offense a much-needed WR2 alongside Chris Olave.

The Panthers just got Jaycee Horn back last week, and he made his presence felt, posting a 90.4 defensive grade from PFF. With Horn as the CB1, Donte Jackson will move over to the other side of the field and likely guard Shaheed or AT Perry when they’re in man. Jackson hasn’t had the season the Panthers have needed him to have, allowing 62% of passes thrown his way to be caught for 434 yards and three touchdowns.

I think Chris Olave is a good enough receiver to find some success against Horn, but whoever is lined up against Jackson needs to step up and play well because the panthers are also one of the best teams at defending tight ends, allowing 411 yards and four touchdowns to tight ends through 12 games (doesn’t help that Juwan Johnson hasn’t looked great).

While the Saints defense ran for 113 yards against the Lions, the team averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. This week, they face a Panthers team that ranks 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up over 125 yards per game on the ground. Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill need to get things moving on the ground, because if there’s any week for the Saints to get the run game going, it’s this week.

The Saints fixed some of their red zone woes last week (we’ll see if they can keep it up), going 4-for-4 on touchdowns in the red area. The Lions are tied for 30th in the league in terms of red zone touchdown percentage, and they just so happen to be tied with the Panthers, so this should be another week of great offense in the red zone, right?

Overall, the Saints offense should be able to find some success against this Panthers defense, but the key is going to be not turning the ball over. Like I said earlier, when you’re facing a 1-11 team, the last thing you need to do is turn the ball over and let them hang around. With Winston likely under center, I’m a bit concerned about that area of the game, but I guess we won’t know until Sunday.

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