|Last 3 Games||1-2||-2.8||1-2||0-3||18.0||10.3||331.0||(5.2)||1.3||24.7||19.0||323.3||(5.4)||0.0|
|Offense (All Games)||25.6||14.8||22.7||32:08||24-89||(3.8)||28-41||68.2%||308||(7.5)||65-397||(6.1)||(15.5)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||22.8||11.5||20.1||30:22||27-114||(4.2)||22-36||61.8%||236||(6.6)||62-350||(5.6)||(15.4)|
|Offense Road Games||18.4||10.7||20.3||30:09||21-74||(3.5)||27-42||63.4%||280||(6.6)||63-354||(5.6)||(19.2)|
|Defense (All Games)||19.3||12.7||17.6||27:52||25-116||(4.6)||19-32||60.7%||196||(6.2)||57-313||(5.5)||(16.2)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||23.5||12.2||19.6||30:11||27-112||(4.2)||21-34||61.9%||224||(6.5)||61-336||(5.5)||(14.3)|
|Defense Road Games||23.1||16.4||19.4||29:51||31-136||(4.4)||19-30||64.3%||222||(7.5)||60-358||(5.9)||(15.5)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.7||0.5||1.2||0.0||14-6||44.7%||1-1||50.0%||1-33||(23.1)||2-12||(6.2)||6-49|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1.1||0.7||1.8||2.2||14-5||39.5%||1-0||46.7%||2-50||(21.9)||18-2||(8.7)||6-56|
|Stats For (Road Games)||1.0||0.4||1.4||-0.7||14-5||37.8%||2-1||50.0%||2-36||(19.2)||1-3||(3.4)||6-51|
|Stats Against (All Games)||0.7||0.5||1.2|| ||13-5||37.3%||1-0||33.3%||2-51||(25.7)||2-11||(7.3)||6-46|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1.1||0.6||1.7|| ||13-5||37.9%||1-0||43.3%||2-52||(22.7)||19-2||(9.2)||6-54|
|Stats Against (Road Games)||0.3||0.4||0.7|| ||13-5||41.3%||1-0||33.3%||2-51||(25.7)||2-9||(4.6)||6-54|
|Last 3 Games||2-1||+1||1-1||1-2||23.3||13.0||352.3||(5.9)||0.7||19.0||11.0||292.0||(5.6)||1.0|
|Offense (All Games)||23.4||11.3||20.9||33:06||31-129||(4.1)||19-30||62.3%||196||(6.5)||61-325||(5.3)||(13.9)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||22.8||11.7||20||31:41||27-110||(4.1)||22-36||61.2%||233||(6.5)||63-344||(5.5)||(15.1)|
|Offense Home Games||27.1||14.0||21.7||33:17||34-135||(4)||17-26||65.9%||210||(7.9)||60-345||(5.8)||(12.7)|
|Defense (All Games)||14.9||6.7||17.0||26:54||22-85||(3.9)||23-34||66.3%||211||(6.2)||56-296||(5.3)||(19.9)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||22.5||11.9||19.2||30:56||27-111||(4.1)||21-34||60.9%||221||(6.5)||61-333||(5.4)||(14.8)|
|Defense Home Games||11.9||4.7||16.0||26:43||22-86||(3.9)||20-30||66.7%||203||(6.8)||52-288||(5.5)||(24.3)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.8||0.4||1.1||0.8||13-6||45.7%||1-1||76.9%||2-39||(21.6)||2-19||(10.6)||5-43|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1.1||0.6||1.7||2.2||14-5||39.2%||1-0||44.7%||2-53||(22.8)||21-2||(9.4)||6-57|
|Stats For (Home Games)||0.7||0.4||1.1||1.1||12-6||49.4%||1-1||66.7%||1-27||(19)||1-10||(7.2)||5-40|
|Stats Against (All Games)||1.2||0.7||1.9|| ||13-5||36.0%||1-0||22.2%||1-28||(22.7)||2-19||(9.3)||5-48|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1.1||0.6||1.8|| ||14-5||36.7%||1-0||42.0%||2-51||(22.5)||19-2||(9)||6-55|
|Stats Against (Home Games)||1.3||1.0||2.3|| ||12-4||37.3%||1-0||20.0%||1-29||(25.5)||2-15||(9.4)||6-54|
|Average power rating of opponents played: NEW ORLEANS 21.4, CAROLINA 21.2|
|11/3/2013||@ NY JETS||20-26||L||-6||L||45.5||O||13-41||30-51-366||2||36-198||9-20-140||0|
|12/15/2013||@ ST LOUIS||16-27||L||-7||L||48||U||20-61||39-56-371||3||34-144||14-20-158||0|
|12/22/2013||@ CAROLINA|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/29/2013||TAMPA BAY|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|10/24/2013||@ TAMPA BAY||31-13||W||-6.5||W||39||O||27-129||23-32-195||0||14-48||30-51-249||1|
|11/10/2013||@ SAN FRANCISCO||10-9||W||6||W||43||U||30-111||16-32-139||2||24-105||11-22-46||2|
|12/8/2013||@ NEW ORLEANS||13-31||L||3||L||47||U||23-128||22-34-111||0||17-69||30-42-304||0|
|12/22/2013||NEW ORLEANS|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/29/2013||@ ATLANTA|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|NEW ORLEANS: The Saints are a pass-heavy offense, but they feature one of the NFL's most versatile and unique running games. They have a series of looks they can run out of, the most common of which is Mark Ingram behind fullback Jed Collins. They use a series of zone and man blocking schemes borrowed from other systems. Darren Sproles is on the field a lot, but primarily in spread formations from which the Saints almost always throw. Most of his touches will come on receptions. Pierre Thomas is the team's most versatile back.
The return of head coach Sean Payton should be a nice boost for Drew Brees and the passing game. This is a spread passing attack, with a lot of West Coast routes. Brees is most comfortable with Marques Colston, who does a lot of his work facing the line of scrimmage. They'll also use TE Jimmy Graham as basically a receiver 1A, moving him around in formations and having him work underneath or up the seam when the matchup is right. Slot receiver Lance Moore also did more work up the seam last year, though he only plays about 60 percent of snaps. Joe Morgan will take Devery Henderson's field-stretching role on the outside. The Saints are very pass-heavy in the red zone, throwing on a league-high 71.2 percent of their goal-to-go plays in 2012.
The Saints gave up 908 more yards than any other NFL team, setting a league record for futility with 7,042 total yards allowed. They also surrendered the second-most points (28.4 PPG). New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan inherits a defense that recorded just six sacks in the final six games. There are still productive veterans in ILBs Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma to lead the front seven, but two newcomers must have a huge impact right away, former Steelers CB Keenan Lewis, and versatile rookie FS Kenny Vaccaro.|
|CAROLINA: New offensive coordinator Mike Shula was promoted from QB coach, so there won't be many offensive changes. Carolina uses a zone-blocking scheme in a number of looks, from spread to wishbone. Jonathan Stewart figures to lead the RB committee in carries, with DeAngelo Williams in a No. 2 role and Mike Tolbert splitting time at halfback and fullback. They use a lot of zone read options with Cam Newton, who could very well lead the team in rushing again as Shula is committed to letting his star pupil make plays.
This is a vertical passing game that works off the threat of the run. Shula will continue to make it a point to feed Steve Smith any time he's in single coverage. Smith still does most of his work downfield. Flex TE Greg Olsen serves as essentially a No. 2 receiver, working up the seam most of the time but also coming back on some checkdowns in the middle of the field. They started to work in Brandon LaFell last year as a catch-and-run guy, and he figures to kick inside when they increasingly go three-wide with field-stretcher Domenik Hixon outside. The red zone will continue to be where Newton takes over. He had nearly half the team's rushing attempts inside the 10 last year, and he and Tolbert essentially split goal line chances. When they throw, Olsen figures to be the No. 1 target.
This defense will need another year or two before becoming an above-average unit. LB Luke Kuechly led the NFL with 164 tackles as a rookie, and the Panthers drafted two large DTs in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short who will be great down the road. But although no Carolina player had more than two interceptions in 2012, the team did nothing to bolster its secondary. The best cover men are underwhelming CBs Josh Norman and Josh Taylor, and top SS Haruki Nakamura has no business being a starter in the NFL.|
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER PRO FOOTBALL PREVIEW (NEW ORLEANS-CAROLINA) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
*Saints-Panthers Preview* =========================
By BRETT HUSTON STATS Editor
It's a pretty straightforward scenario for the New Orleans Saints this week: win and they'll not only clinch the NFC South, but also the conference's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
If they lose, the exact same circumstances will await the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.
After New Orleans' latest road stumble, the second showdown in three weeks between the Saints and Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte will guarantee a playoff spot for the winner while likely dealing the loser a precarious path in the postseason.
New Orleans (10-4) took control of the South with a 31-13 rout of Carolina (10-4) at the Superdome on Dec. 8, but its margin for error took a massive hit a week later in St. Louis.
A Saints win over the Rams would have allowed them to stay in the driver's seat even with a loss at Carolina due to a superior conference record. But after New Orleans committed three turnovers and fell behind by 24 points en route to a 27-16 loss - its fourth in five road games - this visit to Carolina may make or break its season.
"We know what we're playing for - we're playing for the divisional championship and the two seed so it doesn't get any bigger or better than that," quarterback Drew Brees said. "It is going to be a challenge for us. Obviously we understand our deficiencies on the road here the last couple of trips. It is great motivation for us to really hammer down this week, find ways to improve and get better."
While the Saints were coming up empty in St. Louis, Carolina bounced back at home with a 30-20 win over the New York Jets. Coach Ron Rivera, though, admits he got a bit caught up in checking the out-of-town scoreboard.
"A few too many times, to be honest with you," Rivera said. "I did get distracted a couple of times. ... I did hear the crowd cheer and when I looked up they showed the (Saints') score, so that caught my attention."
Carolina will win the South and the conference's second seed with a victory Sunday and a win at Atlanta or a New Orleans loss to Tampa Bay in Week 17. Should the Saints win, they'll be able to rest some starters in their finale with the No. 2 seed locked up.
A loss could be especially damaging for the Panthers. Carolina could still clinch a playoff berth with losses by Arizona and San Francisco, but it also could find itself in trouble should it head to Week 17 tied with the 9-5 Cardinals due to its head-to-head loss.
Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers two weeks ago, bringing his totals at home to an NFC-best 23 TDs, an NFL-best 73.2 completion percentage and a 122.5 passer rating.
On the road, Brees completes just 63.4 percent for an average of 6.94 yards per attempt, nearly two fewer than at home, with an 86.3 QB rating and seven of his 10 interceptions.
Perhaps it's not surprising then that the Saints average 32.9 points at the Superdome and 18.4 on the road - 27th in the league.
"This is not a 'show up on Sunday and play' sport," tackle Zach Strief said. "So, when you go on the field and put that on tape and play like we have on the road it's absolutely concerning."
Strief will have a new partner at tackle in Carolina. Left tackle Charles Brown was benched in St. Louis after committing a key penalty and playing a part in Brees being sacked four times, so the Saints will give rookie Terron Armstead the job of protecting Brees' blindside against a Panthers defense that leads the NFC with 45 sacks.
That's not the only change after the debacle against the Rams. New Orleans released kicker Garrett Hartley after two misses in St. Louis and signed veteran Shayne Graham.
"These aren't decisions you make for effect," coach Sean Payton said. "You don't do that. At least we don't."
Carolina's only loss in its last 10 games came at the Superdome, and it has been especially dominant at home. The Panthers have won six straight there by an average of 18.7 points.
Cam Newton was sacked five times at New Orleans and an NFL-high 28 on the road, but he's been sacked just 10 times in seven home games.
Like Brees, big plays have been a much more common occurrence for Newton at home. He's averaged 8.36 yards per attempt in Charlotte with 12 plays of 25-plus yards. He has only one in his past three road games while throwing for 4.84 yards per pass.
Newton has averaged 9.35 yards per attempt, hit five plays of 25 or more and accounted for five total touchdowns while going 1-1 at home against New Orleans.
He ran for 71 against the Saints last season at home, and it won't be a surprise to see Carolina attack New Orleans on the ground. The Panthers have averaged 178.5 yards rushing - 5.7 per carry - in their past 10 games against the Saints, but only ran 13 times after the first quarter in the first meeting.
"It was a great measuring stick for who we are and where we have to go," Newton said after the Dec. 8 loss. "The best thing about this is we have an opportunity to face this team again in two weeks (at Carolina). Those guys just were better than us today.
"Are they better than us? No."
|Last Updated: 10/20/2014 9:38:28 PM EST|