New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers
The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers won’t have long to stew following heart-wrenching defeats as the NFC South rivals tangle on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina (Enter Contest). The Saints fell on the wrong end of history on Sunday when they saw an extra point returned for a defensive two-point conversion in a 25-23 setback to Denver while the Panthers let a 14-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate in a 20-17 loss to Kansas City.
Drew Brees has the NFL’s second-best total passing-yard with 2,992. He torched Carolina in the first encounter, throwing for 465 yards and four touchdowns before rookie Wil Lutz drilled a 52-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in a 41-38 win on October 16. Cam Newton had a strong performance in his own right with three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) against the Saints, but the reigning NFL MVP ignited the meltdown against the Chiefs as his ill-advised pass was intercepted by Eric Berry and returned 42 yards for a score.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (4-5)
Brandin Cooks enjoyed a career day in his previous encounter with the Carolina Panthers, highlighting his career-high 173-yard performance with an 87-yard touchdown. The lengthy score began a string of four touchdowns in the last five games for the 23-year-old Cooks, who leads the team with six TDs and 694 yards receiving. Fellow wideout Michael Thomas leads rookies in catches (51), receiving yards (613) and touchdown receptions (five), but was held to his lowest yardage total (40) on Sunday and also lost a pair of fumbles. It was his first two of the season. Willie Snead, a former member of the Panthers’ practice squad, had two touchdowns on Sunday, marking the first time he reached the end zone since the first two weeks of the season. Running back Mark Ingram has recorded four touchdowns in his last three road contests.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-6)
Newton has plenty of weapons at his disposal as he tries to exploit a Saints defense that is yielding an NFL fourth-worst 400.6 yards per contest. Kelvin Benjamin looks to atone after his costly fumble led to the Chiefs’ game-winning field goal with another strong outing versus New Orleans, against which he reeled in eight receptions on 14 targets in the first meeting. Fellow wideout Devin Funchess had a touchdown reception on Sunday against Kansas City and also had a 17-yard catch for a score in the first encounter with the Saints. Greg Olsen had six catches for 94 yards in the first meeting with New Orleans and leads all tight ends with 50 receptions and 712 yards receiving.
Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans last month, but has been limited to 81 yards on 28 carries over his last two games. The Panthers are minus-7 (fourth-worst in NFL) and are saddled with an 0-3 mark in divisions matchups.