The New Orleans Saints will get their first taste of NFC South action this Monday night against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints offense was able to move the ball effectively on Sunday but struggled to reach the endzone. On the other hand, the Panthers defense stifled the Falcons offense early, but gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter. This should be a good matchup on Monday night, but I think the Saints offense will have the advantage.
The Saints wide receiver trio of Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed torched the Titans secondary for 262-yards in Week one. The Panthers limited Desmond Ridder to just 115-yards through the air, but he completed 15 of his 18 attempts. Derek Carr is a much more competent QB than Ridder, and he should be able to throw for much more than 115-yards.
On top of that, the Panthers are going to be without their best cornerback in Jaycee Horn after he suffered a hamstring injury against the Falcons.
#Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn is expected to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday in Atlanta, per sources.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 12, 2023
With Horn out, that leaves Carolina with Donte Jackson, Troy Hill and CJ Henderson as their top three corners for this game. Jackson is easily the most proven out of the three, and in Week one, Jackson didn’t allow a single catch, although that number is sort of skewed due to Ridder only targeting his receivers five times all game. Olave, Thomas and Shaheed will be the Panthers secondaries first real test this season, and with Horn out, the Saints receivers should be able to get open early and often.
In terms of the run game, the Panthers ranked dead last in the league in run defense grade according to PFF. To be fair, they did face the number one rushing team in the league in 2022 but averaged 5.0 YPC on 26 attempts.
We still don’t know if the Saints will have Kendre Miller available for Monday, but the extra day rest may prove useful if the rookie can go. The Saints really struggled to move the ball on the ground, but they were facing one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL. I think they should be able to find more success on Monday, but the offensive line is going to have to perform a lot better than they did on Sunday.
The Panthers defense only received one grade higher than a 63, and that was their pass rush grade. They earned an 81.1 pass rush grade from PFF after a four-sack performance against the Falcons.
Carr was hit a lot against the Titans, so don’t be surprised if we see the Panthers get home on Monday. Luckily, the Saints were able to find adjustments to help Carr out in the second half, and it worked pretty well. They Saints offensive line is going to have to put a lot of focus on Brian Burns and Derrick Brown, meaning their other defensive lineman will likely be left one-on-one. It might be a long day in the pocket for Derek Carr if the Saints can’t fix their issues from Sunday.
Overall, the Saints have a very good chance to score a lot of points on the Panthers. The Falcons scored 24 in their matchup, so the Saints should be able to at least match that. Ultimately it all comes down to the offensive line. If they can keep Burns and Brown at bay, the Saints offense should be able to throw the ball at will. Watch for Olave, Thomas and/or Shaheed to have a monster game on Monday.
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