5 Reasons Why The Saints Will Lose To The Panthers
Below are five reasons why the Saints will lose to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Actually, that should probably read "might lose", as truthfully, I think the Saints will win, and take over sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
But it's my week to have them to lose, and there are always dangers, so I dug up the most likely reasons they may lose.
In another segment, Greg Larnerd gives 5 reasons why the Saints will win.
5 Reasons Why The Saints Will Lose.
1)---Third Down Efficiency: New Orleans was first n this category for the last three season, but are only 14th this season, converting on only 38.8 percent of their third down conversions. Meanwhile, Carolina has been pretty good, converting on 44.6% of their chances, to rank in the top five in the league. Defensively, the Panthers have fared better than the Saints as well, holding opponents to a 35.5% conversion rate on third down, which ranks 9th in the league, while New Orleans ranks 19th. In the Saints' 34-13 win over the Panthers back in September, they were largely successful because they went 7-of-14 on third down attempts. Don't expect them to match that number again this time.
2)---Injuries: The Saints aren't exactly healthy right now. The most concerning injury is hat of rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who did not practice on Thursday, due to an ankle injury, after he had returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. It's unclear if it was planned rest or if his ankle wasn't feeling as well as hoped on Wednesday. Either way, his status is in doubt for Sunday's critical game. When Lattimore isn't on the field, the Saints just have a much different defense. He was hurt early in the game against the Redskins two weeks ago, and in his absence, the Saints' got torched, allowing 627 passing yards, the second-most in the NFL. Starting left tackle Terron Armstead didn't practice this week, and the same goes for starting tight end Coby Fleener and rookie safety Marcus Williams, leaving their status very much in doubt. If the Saints are without the services of a couple of these guys, and especially if they're without Lattimore, they may be in trouble.
3)---Greg Olsen: He didn't play the first time the two met, which may be a big part of the reason the Saints won handily. Olsen may not even be available this time either. He hasn't practiced tis week, with a sore foot, but that doesn't mean he won't play. The Saints have has issues with quality tight ends over the years, and Olsen has exploited them on numerous occasion. Last season, he caught 10 passes in the two games, after catching 17 passes for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2016. Going back to 2015, Olsen had a game against the Saints in which he compiled 10 receptions. 10! Trouble! Again, the Saints have historically had major issues against quality tight ends, and major issues with Olsen. Now, with the secondary banged up, there's even more reason for concern. Personally, I think it would be rather wise of the Panthers to help heal up Olsen this week by resting him. You know, since I care so much about his personal well-being.
4)---Special Teams: The Saints, who have been absolutely putrid in the special teams department over the last 5-plus years, actually got off to a decent start in this department, before returning to their returning to their old ways. So much so that they hired longtime special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff to their coaching staff a couple of weeks ago. In terms of defending kicks and punts, the New Orleans special teams unit hasn't performed well, allowing 26.2 return yards per kickoff, which ranks 30th in the league, and 13.1 yards per punt return, which ranks dead last. When it comes to returning kickoffs and punts, things have almost as bad, with the Saints are averaging 19.5 yards-per-kickoff return, which ranks 28th, and 6.4 yards-per-punt return, which ranks 23rd. The Saints have crushed a number of teams this season, but special teams play gets magnified in close games, and this one may very well be a close game.
5)---History: The Panthers hold an all-time 24-21 advantage over the Saints, and have only been swept in a season by New Orleans five times. Keep in mind, the two franchises have been playing twice a season against one another since 1995. That's 22 years, not counting this one, and the Saints have only swept 5 times. So, it can be done, but the odds are against it. It's hard to sweep a division opponent, especially a good one like the Panthers, so the Saints have their work cut out for them.