The Panthers have to go back to the drawing board after losing in a close battle against the New Orleans Saints. Some may say that it's a positive to see Carolina look somewhat solid in a competitive matchup against one of the best teams in the NFC. Others believe that getting close isn't enough and that the Panthers displayed blatant flaws that were taken advantage of by Sean Payton's Saints. No matter which side you relate to more, there were some positives and some negatives.
THE GOOD: Carolina's receivers (again)
This unit continues to be the main source of highlights from the Panthers offense. While Mike Davis has proven to be a quality back, the running backs as a whole haven't been producing as consistently as the wide receivers have. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel all made big plays on Sunday to keep this offense moving. Teddy Bridgewater's consistency allows for these receivers to get in a rhythm and be explosive on the field, and there was no exception this past Sunday.
THE BAD: Failing to stop Alvin Kamara
Even though the Saints were missing Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, they had no problem with moving the football with Alvin Kamara. Kamara rushed for 83 yards on 14 carries and caught eight passes for 65 yards. That's nearly 150 yards from scrimmage, which is way too many yards for one man on the opposing offense to account for. Struggling against running backs is nothing new for this defense, but it's still disappointing to see that its failure to stop the run is one of the main reasons why the Panthers lost.
THE UGLY: Losing on third down
The Saints converted 12 out of 14 times on third down, which is unacceptable for any NFL defense to allow. The Panthers may have also had a successful rate when they went 6-9 on third down, but New Orleans' offense was simply more efficient on Sunday. The Panthers' inability to stop the run ultimately allowed for the Saints to easily convert on third down, which led to multiple touchdowns.
The Panthers will have a great opportunity to recharge and gain momentum in a Thursday matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Performing well against a struggling Falcons team may be just what Carolina needs in order to bounce back.
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