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Bold Predictions: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

The New Orleans Saints play host to division rival Carolina Panthers in the first game of their NFC South division series. This game features two teams that look like they are headed in the opposite direction. The Saints (8-2) look like a team poised for the post season, and look like the most complete team inm the league. The Panthers (5-5) are coming off a tough loss to one of the worst teams in league losing to the Atlanta Falcons 29-3 in their own house.

Kyle Allen took over as QB for an injured Cam Newton in week 3, and came out with guns blazing throwing for 4 TDs in that game. But, since then he has come back down to Earth looking more like a second year back up QB. After that phenomenal first game Allen has thrown 9 INTs to 6 TDs, with 4 of them coming from last weeks blowout loss to the Falcons. There is one thing the Panthers do have going for them, and that’s RB Christian McCaffery. CMC is having one of the most productive seasons by a RB ever. McCaffery is on pace (2,523 yards) to break the single season yardage record which is currently held by Chris Johnson at 2,509 yards. The Panthers defense has gone from top 5, to not very much to talk about these days. Their defense is a middle of the pack type, not doing anything particularly well, but still solid for the most part. The Panthers defense ranks 18th in the league in yards allowed and 17th in DVOA.

The Saints are in control of their own destiny, and can take the division crown with a win this week and next. The Saints will be without a few key starters on both sides of the ball. On offense G Andrus Peat, FB Zack Line, and Return Specialist Dionte Harris, will all not suit up. With Line out of the lineup there has been talk of Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill getting some time at FB as well as returning kickoffs for the injured Harris. Also, with Harris out Alvin Kamara will handle punt returns for the team. This is a game the Saints defense matches up well, and should be able to take advantage of a backup QB. The Saints defense is 5th in DVOA, and has become one of the best in the league after a shaky start. The defense will be without All Pro CB Marshon Lattimore, but they showed last week that are fine without him until his return. PJ Williams has taking over the CB duties for Lattimore.

This is a game that should easily be won by the Saints, but this is a division match-up against teams that know each other quite well. If we learned anything from the Falcons loss 2 weeks ago, it’s that we can not take any teams lightly regardless of their record. The Panthers still have an outside chance at the playoffs, and they will make sure to play like their liveliness depends on it. When these two teams meet up there’s no telling what could happen, as anything is possible. So, once again it has come that time of the week that we take a look into the crystal ball and see what the future holds for us.

The Saints defense hold CMC in check.

The Saints defense has not allowed a 100 yard rusher in 36 games including the post season, and that streak will continue to 37. The Saints terrific run defense shuts down McCaffery also not letting him get much through the air. 37 yards rushing, 43 yards catching, 0 TD

Michael Thomas catches 1 million passes.

In a season where MT is on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s single season reception record it feels like he does catch a million passes a game. Everyone in the stands, watching on TV, coaching on either side, and the players on the field ALL KNOW the ball is going to MT, and they still can not stop him. MT is the real MVP of the league.

Cam Jordan goes for 2 sacks.

This prediction came from the Locked on Saints podcast hosted by Ross Jackson (also the lead analyst for AllSaintsConsidered.com). Cam is 1 and 1/2 sacks shy of tying Wayne Martin for second place in franchise history for QB sacks (Hall of Fame LB Ricky Jackson is the all time team leader).

Taysom Hill scores a TD 3 different ways.

This may be the boldest of all my predictions, but I just write what the crystal ball shows me. Hill has already shown this season he can catch a TD, and with his possible role as a FB for this game we could very well see him run one in too. I wouldn’t put it past Coach Payton to draw some crazy play up for Hill to throw the ball from outside of the QB position giving him the hat trick.

The Saints dominate this game from start to finish.

If things play out the way they showed, then this should not be much of a challenge for the Saints. Brees will throw for 357 yards and 3 TDs, AK41 will run for 73 yards and catch 97 yards 1 TD. Michael Thomas catches 12 passes for 137 yards 1 TD. The Saints defense will get 2 INTs and 1 fumble recovery and 1 TD.

Next week the Saints will get their chance at revenge as they travel to Atlanta for a rematch against the Dirty Birds. The game will be played on Thanksgiving night. This is a year we all can thankful for how well our Saints have played, but we still all have so much more to be thankful for. So, enjoy your time with your family, friends, and neighbors, and have a Happy Thanksgiving/Saintsgiving WHODAT!!!

All Saints Considered Analyst and Social Media Manager. Follow Gareth on Twitter @GarethCrosby81.