The New Orleans Saints (12-4) conclude the 2020 regular season with a 33-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, NC. With the victory and Bears loss to the Packers, the Saints have clinched the #2 Seed in the NFC playoffs. They will participate in the NFL Wild Card weekend next week by hosting the Chicago Bears (8-8) in New Orleans. The Saints and Bears met in Week 8, where the Saints were victorious 26-23.
Here are my three takeaways from the Black and Gold's final regular-season game of the 2020 regular season.
No Running Backs? No Problem!
The New Orleans Saints entered Sunday's action without RBs Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington, and Michael Burton because of COVID-19 contact tracing. To rub salt into the Saints' wounds, running backs coach, Joel Thomas, was prevented from making the trip to Carolina. COVID-19 contact tracing protocols left New Orleans without a position coach and forcing them to move Ty Montgomery from wideout to halfback and call up Tony Jones Jr. from the practice squad.
Montgomery made the most of their opportunity to star at running back for the first time since his days with the Green Bay Packers. The NFL veteran carried the football 18 times and collecting 105 yards - his longest was for 37 yards. The Saints' offense totaled 156 yards on 30 carries and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
New Year, Same Dominant Defense
“New Year, New Me!” is a phrase many have heard since the turn of the New Year a few days ago, but for the Saints' defense, it appears the New Year has not stopped them from their dominant ways. Against Carolina, with a makeshift secondary unit, New Orleans recorded 5 interceptions by 5 different players while surrendering just 320 yards of total offense.
Dennis Allen's defense held the Panthers to just one third-down conversion and a 25% success rate inside the red zone. To go along with the five takeaways, New Orleans got to the quarterback 3 times, including Trey Hendrickson's 13.5 sacks on the season.
Saints are the first NFC South Team to Sweep the Division
With their 33-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the New Orleans Saints become the first team in NFC South history to sweep the division in a single season. Since the NFC South's creation in 2002, none of the division's teams had accomplished the feat. However, the Saints came close just a season ago, losing only one game to a divisional opponent.
The 6-0 divisional record comes in handy for the Saints, who found themselves tied with the Seattle Seahawks at 12-4 for the second seed in the NFC. New Orleans wins the tie-break over Seattle with a better divisional record since the two sides did not face each other in 2020.
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