Deke Bellavia ? Saints @ Panthers Game Day Preview
by Deke Bellavia,posted Dec 20 2013 2:15PM
New Orleans Saints (10-4) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4)
Sunday, December 22, 2013…Bank of America Stadium (74,455)
Noon Kickoff on Saints Radio WWL 870AM/FM 105.3 Last week’s results: St. Louis beat New Orleans 27-16/Carolina beat New York Jets 30-20 Series History: Carolina leads the series 19-18
What they are saying Carolina QB Cam Newton on how big this week’s game is:
“This is the biggest game of the year, not because of all the hype that is going into it. It is the biggest game for us, because this is our next game. We have had that approach each and every week and it has put us in this position right now. For us, we are not going to go into this preparation like we did everything else, because at the end of the day this is our next game. We didn’t pick it, those guys just showed up on our schedule. We were excited to have that opportunity to play those guys a couple weeks ago. We didn’t succeed and we have an opportunity to prove it, not only to ourselves, but to everyone else…that we are the real deal.”
Carolina Coach Ron Rivera on correcting his team’s mistakes from the first meeting with the Saints:
“I can tell you right off the bat…red zone. We go to the red zone twice; the first two times we get the ball and we take two field goals. They did a great job, I think, what Rob (Ryan) did defensively was good and it kept us out the end zone and kept their offense in a great situation, because the next time they get the ball they convert on third down and go down and score a touchdown and (they go) up 7-6. To me it is about what happened in the red zone more than anything else. We have to be better there. We cannot allow that. Then in the last four minutes of the first half the Saints scored 14 points and went up 21-6. Again, to me, it was about the way we played in the red zone and the effectiveness they had in the red zone against us.”
Saints Coach Sean Payton on what changes need to be made since the last time New Orleans played Carolina.
“I think in both cases there are things that we didn’t run that were on a call sheet, offensively and defensively. And I am sure vice versa that things you wanted to have a chance to do and weren’t able to, you keep those things. Teams aren’t really changing their scheme philosophically during the course of weeks. There are certain things you do as an emphasis. There are certain things you want to apply in a game. But the personalities of teams, at this point in the year, are pretty defined.”
Keys to victory:
Repeat Dat – When you win a game 31-13…even I know you want to try and do some of the same things you had success with in the first game. To me the #1 thing the Saints need to do is play well on third down. In the Saints 31-13 win over Carolina two weeks ago the Saints offense, as well as the defense, were outstanding on third down. The Saints offense was 7 out of 12 on third down conversions for 58%, while the Black & Gold defense allowed only 6 of 15 third down conversions by the Cats offense. Repeat those numbers and it is all good!
Repeat Dat 2 – The Saints defense set the tone early in the game…sending a clear message to Carolina that points scored would be hard to come by. The Saints defense stiffened on the Cats first two drives forcing the Panthers to kick two field goals. After falling behind 6-0, the Saints outscored Carolina 31-7 the rest of the game. Red zone defense needs to be just as good this time around. Hey, even I know if the other team can’t score, they can’t win!
Score! In the second half! Man, the Saints have been bad when it comes to scoring points on the road. In their last three road games (Atlanta, Seattle and St. Louis) the Saints scored 16 points combined in the second half of those three games. And the 13 points scored against the Rams came far after the game was out of reach. My question-- if the Saints don’t score in the first half, will they get some points in the final two quarters of the game?
Win! By any means necessary. This is it. If the Saints beat Carolina, they lock up the NFC South and the #2 seed in the conference. Next week’s game would mean nothing and allow the Saints starters to rest up for over two weeks to get ready for a divisional game at home in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It does not matter how or by how much. Just win and you’re in!
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis
Simply put, if I would’ve told you back in August that the Saints would play Carolina in week #16 for the NFC South title and the #2 seed, you…me...the whole Who Dat Nation would’ve been pleased. Now, the Saints can resolve a lot by winning over the Panthers.
A win gives the Saints the title, the #2 spot and more importantly confidence… confidence to win on the road…something the Saints desperately need. However, I pick with my head not my heart. The last time I picked the opposing team to win over the Saints on the road was against Seattle. With a rookie offensive tackle and a new field goal kicker and playing on the road against a team that is 9-1 in their last 10 games…it’s enough for me to go with Carolina. I’ll take the Panthers 24-16. But, I’d love for the Black & Gold to prove me wrong.
Deke Bellavia – Saints @ Panthers Game Day Preview
Please Enter Your Comments Below
2 interceptions and lack of productivity later, it looks like the Saints just aren't playoff ready this year. They do not show the desire and ability needed.
Like I said no heart, no desire, and no ability equals success. 2 loses in a row and a quarterback that may have seen his best years. Not a playoff caliber team.
I meant to say equals NO success!!!!!!
Great! Carolina beats the New Orleans Minge Munchers!
Saints player walks by Panther player, Panther player flops to the ground without any contact with anyone else. Ref standing right there throws a flag, calls personal foul on saints player which stops what could have been a scoring drive. One could argueRef was earning his second paycheck.