Week 4 and the 0-3 Carolina Panthers find themselves traveling to New Orleans to play the Saints after a tough loss in OT. Saints kicker Garrett Hartley was a playoff hero back in January when he kicked the Saints into the Super Bowl. Last week was a different story however, Hartley missed a 29-yd attempt that would have made the Saints 3-0. The kicking game for the Saints was not the end all be all. Atlanta churned up 417 yards with 202 of that coming from the running game.
So, we have an upset Saints team and winless Panther team who’s running game and all star backfield has not produced the way a DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart need to do better (77 total rush yds vs Bengals). Jimmy Clausen’s first NFL start was not bad in terms of production. Clausen finished 16 of 33 for 188 yards with 0 TDs and 3 turnovers. On a good note, Clausen moved the ball around to 7 different targets and led a few good drives. The objective this week needs to be increase the running and get the ball down field to Steve Smith. Smith only had 3 receptions for 22 total yards, almost the same as rookie David Gettis (3 catches for 32 yds). True, a loss is a loss and wins are a lot more fun. But the Panthers are the second youngest team in the NFL. Baby steps. More progress is that Clausen was sacked just once by Cincinnati, while Matt Moore went down eight times in the first 2 games. Progress.
The Panthers defense has been far from dominant this season. But they have held their own and at least given the offense an opportunity to win the game. Bengals QB Carson Palmer was intercepted twice and RB Cedric Benson held to 81 yards on 27 carries (3.0 yds/carry). The Panthers rank last in the NFL in pass completion percentage (44.3) and leads the league in turnovers (12). How about a little hope, John Fox is 11-5 as a head coach against the Saints and the Panthers have won 7 of the last 9 meetings. Drew Brees has a bum knee and Reggie Bush is out.
Prediction: Saints 24, Panthers 14
About the Author
Written by Chris Jones
Resident of Charlotte, NC and avid sports fan from little league to professional to extreme. Bachelors degree in broadcasting with a minor in physical education. Associated with sports most of professional career by freelancing in college then moving on to work for ESPN and ABC Sports for 17 years. When not attending, watching or playing sports, spare time spent as a basketball referee in North Carolina.