With training camp approaching quickly, we’re taking a look at each of the New Orleans Saints’ divisional rivals. Last up are the Carolina Panthers.
While things are somewhat quiet these days for the New Orleans Saints and the rest of the NFL’s clubs, it’s as good as time as any to scout out each of the team’s NFC South rivals on an individual basis. From recent history between the clubs to a look ahead to this season, we got started with the division champion Atlanta Falcons and moved onto the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We wrap things up with the Carolina Panthers.
2016 Results: On a Sunday afternoon at the Superdome (Week 6), the Saints came away with a thrilling 41-38 victory. Five weeks later on a Thursday night at Charlotte (Week 11), the Panthers managed a 23-20 win.
2017 Meetings: The Saints play three of their first four games on the road,. That includes a tilt in Carolina in Week 3. Three months later, New Orleans hosts the Panthers (Week 13).
Analysis: When you play the kind of defense that the New Orleans Saints have in recent years, it’s no wonder that opposing quarterbacks and offensive units look forward to hosting Sean Payton’s team. And no doubt heading to the Big Easy isn’t the worst thing in the world for any number of reasons.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his club have had their way in this series as of late. Ron Rivera’s club has won seven of the last 10 encounters dating back to 2012.
And for those who put stock in such things, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has a losing record as a starter (9-11) against this NFC South rival dating back to his arrival in New Orleans in 2006.
This is a Panthers’ club with a different look to it. That young talent in the secondary, led by second-year cornerback James Bradberry, should be a lot better. The club added play-making strong safety Mike Adams (Indianapolis Colts) to team with Kurt Coleman. Veteran defender Julius Peppers is back with the team after stints with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. There are new looks on the offensive line. And there’s a new face in the backfield (and likely elsewhere) in 2017 first-round running back Christian McCaffrey.
A year ago, the Carolina Panthers were a morbid 6-10 following a 15-1 campaign and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. Rivera’s club was also just 1-5 within the division (5-1 the previous year), the lone win over the Saints. This has been a team Brees and company have really struggled with as of late. Could the tide be turning?
Russell S. Baxter covers the New Orleans Saints for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Saints news and features? Like our Saints Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_saints on Twitter.