Game Preview: Saints vs Panthers

New Orleans Saints Look Ready to Rebound On The Road Against Carolina Panthers With the fallout from Bounty-gate still simmering, the New Orleans Saints provided little resistance to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in a season-opening home loss. On Sunday, the Saints will once again try and put the events of the past six months squarely in the rear-view mirror when they travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers as 2.5-point favorites in our NFL picks.

The Panthers have the look of a team that could provide the perfect antidote for the Saints’ ails this week. Second-year quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina offense is coming off a disappointing showing in their Week One loss to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a road favorite, and now are facing a Saints’ team that has won four straight in the series, including a 45-17 pummeling in their most recent match-up on New Years’ Day.

If last year’s games between these two teams are any indication, you can expect to see the Saints’ Drew Brees’ targeting Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston early and often. That pair of pass-catchers gouged the Panthers with a combined 28 receptions for 440 yards and three touchdowns in the two games last year.

If the Saints are to approach what they did to Carolina a year ago, they will need to clean up the myriad of mistakes that were made in Week One. New Orleans was penalized 12 times for 107 yards against the Redskins, converted just two-of-11 third downs, and the secondary and linebacker corp was absolutely shredded by a fleet and strong-armed Griffin.

Aaron Kromer, who is filling in as Saints’ head coach until interim Joe Vitt completes a six-game suspension from the Bounty-gate scandal, sounded confident the New Orleans would be able to rebound this week.

“We had one bad game. We’re going to turn it around,” Kromer told the Associated Press. “It’s a good wake-up call for us and we’re ready to go.”

Brees went on to note the Saints also lost their first game last year before going on to win 13 of their next 15 games to finish at 13-3.

So, its prediction time and we are going to stick with the proven “class” of the field, the Saints. The Panthers could muster just 10 yards rushing against Tampa Bay and there doesn’t figure to be much help this week from running back Jonathan Stewart, who missed the opener with an ankle injury and will see only limited duty this week if granted medical clearance to play. We’ll lay the 2.5-points and join the “Who-Dat” nation at least for one week.

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