The New Orleans Saints (3-2) host their second NFC SOUTH foe this weekend as they battle the Carolina Panthers (3-3) inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon. Both teams have experienced COVID-19 scares this week but all systems are a go for the Week 7 matchup that could have big implications on playoff positioning at the end of the year. Below are the Saints News Network Krewe's keys to a Saints victory in Week 7.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Play of the Secondary
I see the biggest key to this game for New Orleans being on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, I know that the Saints will be without Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, certainly two big losses. But remember that they still have outstanding weapons like Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and Jared Cook, along with an outstanding offensive line that I expect to dominate the line of scrimmage.
New Orleans should be able to control a Carolina running game without Christian McCaffrey, a banged up Mike Davis, and an inconsistent Panthers offensive line. Getting pressure on Teddy Bridgewater from the Saints front seven will also be crucial, but the main battle will be in the New Orleans secondary. The Saints had a bye week for CB Janoris Jenkins to get healthy, and to hopefully clean up the communication issues, blown assignments, and penalties that have crippled this unit all year.
They'll need to. Carolina has two extremely dangerous wideouts in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, who have combined for 67 receptions and over 1,000 yards. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins must have the type of outing that we saw on opening week against Tampa Bay for the Saints to have a successful defensive campaign.
Kyle T. Mosley
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Early Offensive Tempo
Saints need to establish the game's tempo early with the rushing attack with Kamara and Murray. The rushing attack's inconsistency in the second half of games has created offensive lags and inabilities to convert third downs.
Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara must be integral parts of Sean Payton's gameplan. Now that his two top receivers, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, will not play in the game, involving Jared Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Tre'Quan Smith in the passing game becomes extremely important. The rookie Marquez Callaway has shown the ability to find the holes in zone coverages in the Lions and Chargers games. New Orleans cannot be conservative and should take advantage of a struggling Panthers secondary.
Saints secondary must create turnovers to give Brees and the Saints offense extra possessions and good field position.
The "Big Homies" on the Saints offensive line must become bullies today. They can do this not only by protecting Drew Brees and giving him extra time to survey the field but also by controlling the line of scrimmage and pushing around an active Carolina front seven.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Lean on the Defense
The Saints face some somewhat unfamiliar territory being down their top two wide receivers, but still should be able to move the ball. Look for a huge dose of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, while Jared Cook could be someone who sees increased targets. Offensively, Drew Brees has navigated this before, and will need to pick his shots as they come.
This feels like a game where the defense needs to be the hero, and that’s saying a lot given how they’ve played this season. They’ve had some time to heal and figure things out, and this should be a week of improvement for them.
Perfection is not what we need to see, just improvement and getting off the field when it counts. Teddy Bridgewater looked off against the Bears last weekend, and Dennis Allen should use some of that film to help get the Saints defensive unit going.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Establish The Run
Drew Brees will face his rival ‘frenemy’ Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater. This week’s game against the Carolina Panthers must prove the Saints have finally found their rhythm, even without key wide receivers. Executing the keys to victory this week is paramount.
The Saints MUST establish the run early, win the turnover margin and pressure Teddy Bridgewater early. Starting slow is not an option. The defense will have to come out on fire! The Saints could look to bounce back into consideration as one of the top teams in the NFL, and this week will be a must win for the franchise.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Next Man Up Mentality
What an odd week for the New Orleans Saints wide receivers group... just as it appeared that the Saints would return to full health in their wide receivers room a flurry of unforeseen road blocks were placed in the way. All-Pro WR Michael Thomas picked up a hamstring injury in practice Wednesday that will keep him out of Sunday's action. Just a day later, Emmanuel Sanders is placed on the COVID list and Bennie Fowler III is placed on IR after a successful shoulder surgery.
With three receivers unavailable the Saints will lean on WRs Tre'Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Ty Montgomery and Marquez Callaway against the Panthers. This is not the first time New Orleans has been bit by the injury bug this season they were without 6 starters against the Lions earlier this season and came out with a victory.
The same 'Next man up' mindset will be needed in this divisional matchup for the Saints to move to 4-2 on the season and keep pace with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. QB Drew Brees has turned a few no name wide-outs into household names among the Who Dat Nation and he may have to do it again, well at least for Sunday afternoon.
For all the latest New Orleans Saints News & Rumors follow:
Continue to follow all Saints’ coverage on Social Media with Saints News Network at @SaintsNews on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.