Carolina (5-5; 5-5 ATS) at New Orleans (8-2; 7-3 ATS)
Early line: Saints (minus-9.5 points). Total: (47)
CAR 18TH OFF; NO 6TH DEF
CAR 10TH RUN; NO 3RD vs. RUN
CAR 22ND PASS; NO 13TH vs. PASS
CAR 15TH PTS; NO 12TH PTS ALLOWED
NO 14TH OFF; CAR 19TH DEF
NO 17TH RUN; CAR 27TH vs. RUN
NO 9TH PASS; CAR 14TH vs. PASS
NO 13TH PTS; CAR 25TH PTS ALLOWED
CAR T16TH TO/TA; NO 4TH TO-TA
Panthers lead all-time series 25-24-0. In most recent game, Panthers beat Saints 33-14 at New Orleans to snap a 4-game losing streak vs. NO in 2nd game of last year’s season series in Week 17, with QB Kyle Allen effectively guiding 374-yard total offense in place of the injured Cam Newton. Neither Saints QB Drew Brees nor RB Alvin Kamara played in regular-season finale, with NO having already clinched playoff berth. In Saints’ 12-9 win at Carolina in first game of last year’s season series in Week 15 Monday-nighter, NO’s defense limited Carolina to 247 total yards and registered 4 sacks and two takeaways. Saints are continuing stretch of four consecutive games against NFC South rivals.
After 5 straight wins in place of Newton (on I.R.), Allen has regressed big-time, coming of his worst performance yet in reeling PANTHERS’ humbling 29-3 Week 11 home loss to the division-rival Falcons for their 3rd loss in their last 4 games.
Allen threw a career-high four picks while taking five sacks in Week 11 loss, but PANTHERS head coach Ron Rivera said he’s willing to stick with Allen, knowing there will be a lot of growing pains in the second half of this season.
"I'm not concerned about Kyle's learning curve," Rivera said of Allen, who has thrown 9 INTs in PANTHERS’ last 4 games and now has 14 turnovers and 10 TD passes on the season."... He's a young quarterback who is going to make young mistakes. But that is why you put him out there. We're going to live with his learning pains because that is what the game is all about."
But first, Rivera said, Allen needs to learn that he can't do it alone and has to rely more on his PANTHERS teammates. Twice Allen forced throws into coverage deep in Atlanta territory, leading to a pair of picks. "Three interceptions in the first half put us in a horrible position," Allen said.
Rivera said Allen could certainly use some help — and he pointed directly at PANTHERS’ offensive line, which has started a rookie at left tackle for most of the season. First it was Dennis Daley, who is currently sidelined with a groin injury (check status). In Week 11, it was Greg Little in the starting lineup.
On a positive note, RB Chris McCaffrey continues to be a bright spot for the PANTHERS after racking up 191 yards from scrimmage in Week 11 (14-70 rushing and 11-121 receiving on 14 targets). He would have easily eclipsed 200 yards had several plays been not called back because of holding penalties.
PANTHERS’ McCaffrey failed to score for the first time since Week 2. Still, he passed LaDainian Tomlinson (238) for the most receptions by a running back in his first three NFL seasons.
PANTHERS WR D.J. Moore also continues to pull his weight. He had 8-95 receiving on 15 targets with a long of 31 after back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts in Carolina’s previous 2 games.
PANTHERS defense allowed Falcons 349 total yards and registered 3 sacks, but it also allowed Atlanta to convert 6-of-14 3rd downs and their only 4th down and failed to register any takeaways.
In addition to Daley, check status of PANTHERS CB Ross Cockrell (quadricep; DNP in Week 11).
In PANTHERS’ Week 15 loss to Saints last season, Newton had a very lackluster 16-29-131-0 TDs-1 INT (52.5 QB rating) and 5-15 rushing with a long of 5; McCaffrey had 15-53 rushing with a long of 9, 8-67 receiving on 11 targets and a long of 22 and a 50-yard TD pass to TE Chris Manhertz to give Carolina an early 7-0 lead; and LCB James Bradberry had an INT, a FF and 3 tackles.
In PANTHERS’ Week 17 win over Saints last season, Allen had 16-27-228-2 TDs-0 INTs (111.3 QB rating) and 5-19-1 rushing with a long of 10; RB Cameron Artis-Payne (now with XFL’s Dallas Renegades) had 16-56-1 rushing with a long of 15 (TD); TE Ian Thomas had 5-61-1 receiving on 7 targets with a long of 31; Moore had 4-81 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 38; and WR Curtis Samuel had 2-72-1 receiving on 4 targets with a long of 53 (TD).
SAINTS bounced back from an ugly loss to the last-place Falcons with a convincing 34-17 Week 11 road win over the division-rival Bucs.
Brees threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and NFL receptions leader Michael Thomas became the first player in league history with 90-plus catches in the first 10 games of a season in SAINTS’ Week 11 win over the Bucs.
SAINTS’ Thomas, who also became the first player with at least 90 receptions in each of his first four NFL seasons, had eight catches for 114 yards. That boosted his totals for 2019 to 94 receptions for 1,141 yards.
In addition to a 16-yard scoring pass to Thomas in the first half, Brees tossed TD passes of 3 yards to TE Jared Cook and 6 to WR Ted Ginn Jr. after SAINTS were held out of the end zone during previous week's 26-9 loss to the Falcons.
Brees was 28-of-35 with no INTs in his 3rd start since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him 5 games (122.4 QB rating). The SAINTS outgained the Bucs 195 yards to 11 while building an early 20-0 lead, controlling the ball for 20 of the game's first 25 minutes.
A SAINTS offensive line playing without injured OG Andrus Peat (forearm; check status) protected the 40-year-old Brees, who was not sacked in Week 11 after Atlanta got to him six times the previous week.
SAINTS RB Alvin Kamara rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries with a long of 14 and also had a team-high 10 receptions for 47 yards on 10 targets with a long of 17 in Week 11 win.
S Marcus Williams put an exclamation point on a strong Week 11 defensive performance, returning the third of SAINTS' four interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown that put the NO up 34-17 with just over five minutes remaining.
SAINTS beat Bucs 31-24 in NO in Week 5, holding WR1 Mike Evans without a catch. While replicating that success figured to be difficult, even if injured CB Marshon Lattimore — the primary defender on Evans in the earlier meeting — had played in Week 11 (hamstring; check status), the Saints did a nice job again of containing Evans with P.J. Williams filling in for Lattimore (Evans had 4-69 receiving and no TDs).
Other particularly noteworthy SAINTS defenders in Week 11 were DE Cameron Jordan, who had 1 ½ sacks, 4 hurries and 3 tackles; and LB Demario Davis, who had an INT, 4 PBs and tied for the team lead in tackles with 6.
In SAINTS’ Week 15 win over Panthers last season, Brees had 23-35-203-0 TDs-I INT (69.1 QB rating); Kamara had 14-67-1 rushing with a long of 16 (TD) and 7-36 receiving on 9 targets with a long of 11; Davis had a sack, 2 hurries, 2 PBs and team-high 8 tackles; and SS Vonn Bell had a sack, a FF, a PB and 7 tackles.
In SAINTS’ Week 17 loss to Panthers last season, QB Teddy Bridgewater had 14-22-118-1 TD-1 INT (73.7 QB rating), RB Dwayne Washington had 11-108 rushing with a long of 28, WR Tre’Quan Smith had 3-30-1 receiving on 4 targets with a long of 13 and Thomas had 5-29 receiving on 7 targets with a long of 8.
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