When the Carolina Panthers vs Saints from New Orleans kickoff at the newly turfed Bank of America Stadium Sunday, rich history of close matchups between the two will trail behind them. 

Since 2017 the 1-0-0 Panthers, and the 1-0-0 Saints, have had four of the eight games against each other decided by five or fewer points. The other four were blowouts by an average score of 24.5. So, come Sunday, it’s tricky to predict a barn burner or a nail-biting affair between the two, but there are some key storylines to keep an eye on heading into Week 2. 

Panthers vs Saints Pick

Jameis Winston looked exceptional in his Week 1 debockleing of the Green Bay Packers, achieving a QBR of 92.5, making him the second-highest-rated quarterback behind last year’s Panthers starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (95.7). He was very efficient, to say the least. The Saint’s leader went 14-20, tossing for 148 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in history to throw five touchdowns in such few passing yards. 

What will be interesting to look out for is if Winston can keep that efficiency this week in a closer game where he might be forced to throw more than 20 times.

A team usually led by a stout offense with the likes of Drew Brees at the helm might be morphing into a team led by its defense. The Saints beat up the Packers, especially on third down, allowing only a 10% conversion rate. This becomes relevant considering the Panther’s struggles in Week 1 on third down offensively. The ‘black and blue’ were only able to convert on 28.6% of their third-down opportunities, a part of their game that will have to get better against a stacked Saints defense with the likes of ​​Marcus Davenport, Cameron Jordan, and Kwon Alexander. 

When looking at both teams there is one player that sticks out with that X-factor ability, a guy that can shift the outcome of the game himself. Christian McCaffrey is that guy. Last week against the Jets, the 5’11 running back combined for 187 Total yards, 98 on the ground and 89 through the air. The all-around back etched himself in the history books with that performance putting him at seven games with at least 75 rushing yards and 75 receiving yards. The only other players to do that are Marshall Faulk (11) and Priest Holmes (11). 

panthers vs saints pick

A guy with that kind of ability cannot be overlooked, and he will likely get a fair share of the workload to come Sunday’s contest. If McCaffrey can just match that performance from Week 1, the Saint’s defense will have their hands full. 

Another notable guy to look at on the Panthers offense is DJ Moore, and the number one option for a quarterback, Sam Darnold. In Moore’s last four games against the Saints he has put up some big numbers, compiling 401 yards and four touchdowns on 19 receptions. Although he might not be too popular around the Big Easy, he is undoubtedly popular in the Saint’s secondary room in prep for this week’s showdown. 

The preview wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the point spread and a couple of props before this NFC South showdown. New Orleans enters this contest as 3.5 point favorites on the road. Considering last week’s performance, that seems like good value at its face. 

Total points currently sit at (44.5), which is to be expected considering the history between these two teams. It will be interesting to see if the two sides will come out firing. Or, will the veteran defense of the Saints and the Panthers’ young defense stifle either side’s offense? 

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