The Saints don’t get much of a break this week as they go on the road against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night. Who Dat Nation will learn a lot about the character of this team after a heartbreaking loss to the Broncos last week. WhoDatDish sat down with the Editor of CatCrave at FanSided.com, to get some insight into the game.
Question 1: So besides the injuries, what’s the main difference from last years Super Bowl run?
There are two main differences between last season and this year that have hurt Carolina. Offensive line play and turnover differential. Last season the offensive line remained in tact for the entire season and that consistency obviously helped. This year tackle Michael Oher’s ongoing concussion woes have led to moving pieces along the front five, not to mention center Ryan Kalil’s injury that left him sidelined for the past two games. Also, last year Carolina ranked number one in turnover differential with 19 giveaways against 39 takeaways. To this point, Carolina has already matched its’ giveaway total from last year (19) and ranks 29th in the league in turnover differential (-7).
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Question 2: Are fans still happy with coach Ron Rivera, or is there calls for new leadership?
Yes, fans are happy with Ron Rivera and his production in Carolina. Typically, his teams perform well in the second half of the season and exceptionally well in December. While this season’s results are yet to be determined, his job remains safe. However, fans continue to question offensive coordinator Mike Shula and his conservative play calling once a lead has been established. While his calls are ultimately Rivera’s responsibility, it appears that Shula is taking much more heat than Rivera at this time.
Question 3: What positions will the Panthers look to draft in 2017?
Currently there are a number of positions that Carolina could be targeting in the 2017 draft. General Manager Dave Gettleman is likely targeting a defensive end or offensive tackle in the first round, but both running backs and safety remain areas of concern.
Queston 4: What will be the top 3 statistical categories to look at on Thursday that Carolina will need to shine in to beat the Saints?
As mentioned, turnovers have hurt the Panthers in 2016 so they obviously need to win that battle. Also, quarterback Drew Brees was sacked once last game as he shredded the Carolina secondary. The defense needs to have constant pressure on Brees and run the sack totals up. Finally, rushing yards. In New Orleans, Cam Newton rushed twice – one a two-yard touchdown and the other a knee. If Carolina is going to be successful, Newton will, at times, need to move the football himself.
Question 5: Score prediction?
Carolina rebounds and avenges the earlier loss, 31-30.
You can follow Editor Brandon Scott @ThisisBScott on Twitter and his blog @CatCraveBlog