The 11-2 Saints come into the game with the best record in the NFL, with only 13 points separating them from an undefeated record. This is a team with great balance on offense and a good enough defense to give other teams some trouble. On offense the Saints feature a pair of top running backs in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, one of the best wide receivers in the game in Michael Thomas, and a future Hall of Fame quarterback having one of the best years of his storied career in Drew Brees. It all adds up to an explosive unit that has scored 40 or more points in six of their 13 games this season. The Saints are playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, a very important goal for a dome team.
The 6-7 Panthers come into this game in disarray and fighting for their playoff lives. All looked well halfway through the season with the Panthers cruising at 6-2. It looked for all the world like these two teams would be battling for NFC South supremacy throughout the season and the final three games, with two of the three between these two teams, would decide the divisional champion. Instead the wheels have completely come off for the Panthers. They have not won a game since the halfway point of the season. Losers of five straight, the Panthers are now fighting to avoid elimination from the playoffs. Four of the five losses have been on the road, where it is tough for most NFL teams to win, so perhaps some home cooking, where the Panthers own a 5-1 record, could help the Panthers pull an upset here.
It’s the Saints and the Panthers in an NFC South showdown with critical playoff implications for both teams on Monday Night Football.
Enjoy the game everybody.