The Carolina Panthers collected their first win of the season Sunday with an impressive 35-27 win over the NFC South-rival New Orleans Saints. Now they will have a short week to prepare for a Thursday night home game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Carolina is currently listed as a one-point underdog in the Week Three matchup.
Carolina used a balanced offensive attack to upend the Saints. Quarterback Cam Newton went 14 of 20 for 253 yards and a touchdown in the win and the Panthers ground attack chipped in an additional 219 yards. Newton added 71 yards on the ground on 13 carries and DeAngelo Williams carried 14 times for 69 yards.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski were obviously happy by the balance the Panthers offense showed.
“Chud likes to talk about having offensive balance, but offensive balance doesn’t necessarily just mean 25 runs and 25 passes,” Rivera said. “It means being able to run and pass when you want to or when you have to. We were able to do some of those things well, at the right time.”
The Saints had no answer for Newton and the Panther’s “zone read” rushing attack. This is evolving into the staple play of the Panthers and it will be up to the Giants to contain its many variations if they are to have success Thursday night.
New York enters this one off a 41-34 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were coming off a Week One win against the Panthers. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for a whopping 510 yards against the Buccaneers, 295 of which came in the second half.
While the Panthers were able to outlast the Saints, its defense remains a question mark. New Orleans rolled up 486 yards of total offense and that could leave Manning and company licking their chops. This has the looks of a high-scoring affair and with the Panthers the home team we’re going to lean that way in our NFL picks.