Panthers Primetime Preview

The Panthers have won just once in the last six weeks, but they could make a big move in their division Thursday night.

The Panthers lost to the Packers by 21 points two weeks ago. Sunday night, the Packers lost to the Saints by 21. 

Judging by those results, the Panthers would appear to have no shot Thursday night against the Saints. But just like every week is different in the NFL, the Saints are different depending on where they play.

"When they're at home, they're badass," Panthers defensive end Mario Addison said. "When they're away, I wouldn't say they're timid, but they aren't the same Saints."

The Panthers may not look better than the Saints on paper, but the fact that Thursday night's game is at Bank of America Stadium is a distinct advantage for the home team. 

While both teams are on short weeks, the Saints have to travel, and they have to do so after playing seven and a half hours later than the Panthers did Sunday. Plus, the Saints have not won away from home this year.

Inside their Superdome, they are 3-0 with a 33.6 points per game average. On the road, they are 0-4, while scoring 11.1 fewer points. 

"Obviously they play better at home than they do on the road," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "But (Saints quarterback) Drew Brees is the guy that runs that ship, and at the end of the day, we still have to be ready for those guys."

Brees, who is 22-10 in primetime games since joining the Saints in 2006, has very much enjoyed playing the Panthers lately. Over his last five games against Carolina, he's thrown for 1,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, with just two interceptions.

In his trip to Charlotte last season, heavy rain in the second half slowed Brees down just enough to allow the Panthers to hold on for a playoff-clinching 17-13 win. 

Carolina's Thomas DeCoud was not with the Panthers for that game, but the former Falcons safety is well aware of how deadly Brees can be as a passer. 

"His efficiency and his ability to find any receiver that's open, and his accuracy with the ball," DeCoud said, when asked what makes Brees special. "He can knock a fly off a shoulder with the ball if he had to."

The Panthers have to be like annoying flies at a summer picnic if they are going to slow Brees down. If they do not get pressure on him, he will likely pick the suspect secondary apart. 

The Saints are more beatable on the road, but it is up to the Panthers to force their division rivals into mistakes. And that is what Thursday night may come down to — the team that makes the fewest errors could win. 

That may not be the most appealing advertisement for a game, but the NFC South is not the most appealing group this season. And whomever ends up winning the division could very well point to this game as their midseason catalyst. 

"If you want to win the division, you have to within the division," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "And you've got to win at home."

Categories: Black and Blue Review 2, Panthers