The New Orleans Saints (3-2) are fresh off of their BYE week as they look to do battle against the Carolina Panthers (3-3) inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon. Both squads enter Week 7 with three wins on the season, including winning against a division foe. Below are three things to watch in this week's NFC SOUTH showdown.
How Will the Saints Offense Look With Thomas Returning?
After suffering an ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Saints Week 1 matchup against the Buccaneers, All-Pro WR Michael Thomas appeared to be good to go against the Chargers in Week 5 until becoming a healthy scratch due to team discipline. The Saints offense has struggled without Thomas in the lineup but has begun to find their way over the past two weeks, posting back to back victories.
New Orleans rank top-5 in the NFL in points per game, but there has been something missing offensively, particularly on third-down and in key moments. Without Thomas in the lineup, first-year Saint Emmanuel Sanders has stepped up into a key role but replacing Thomas' production is near impossible.
'Can't Guard Mike' is expected to make this return to the gridiron this week. He even crashed Cameron Jordan's interview on ESPN's First Take during the BYE week to tell the viewers he “would be back next week.” With Thomas back in the Saints lineup and continued chemistry growth between Brees and the Saints wide-outs, they should be back riding on all cylinders Sunday.
Teddy Bridgewater Faces Saints For First Time Since Joining Panthers
This time last year, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome roared with chants of “Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” as QB Teddy Bridgewater lead the Saints to a 5-0 record in the absence of Drew Brees. However, this Sunday, Bridgewater will return to the Superdome in enemy colors to battle the Saints for the first time as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
Following his stellar stretch with New Orleans in 2019, Bridgewater signed a 3-year, $60M contract with the Carolina Panthers. In his first season with the Panthers, Bridgewater's record is 3-3, completing 70.9% of his throws for 1,676 yards, 6 TDs, and 5 INTs.
Without the roaring Who Dat Nation in attendance Sunday, Bridgewater will not receive the ovation he was bound to have by being a fan favorite in New Orleans. This will be the first of two regular-season meetings between the teams. They will meet again in Week 17 in Charlotte on January 3rd, 2021.
During his five games as the New Orleans Saints starting quarterback, Bridgewater threw for 1,384 yards, 9 TDs, and 2 INTs.
Game Status after Panthers Close Facility Due to "Unconfirmed Positive" COVID Test
The Carolina Panthers have closed their facility are working both Monday and Tuesday virtually after an “unconfirmed positive” COVID-19 test. First-year Head Coach Matt Rhule was informed of the test around 5 AM EST Monday and gave a virtual presser from his Charlotte home this afternoon. “I just look forward to going out there on Wednesday, putting the pads on and getting to work,” Rhule said.
After a loss to Chicago at home, the Panthers travel to New Orleans for an NFC SOUTH matchup this Sunday. However, the game status will be heavily monitored, barring the “unconfirmed positive” COVID-19 test results. The Panthers are planning on returning to their facility on Wednesday for their first team practice of the week. For all the latest New Orleans Saints News & Rumors follow:
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