Week 17: Carolina Panthers At New Orleans Saints

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Cam Newton continues his late-season surge. The Panthers played dreadful football in the first half of the season, but they have been on their game in the second half. Newton has played with confidence and athleticism and has led the Panthers to four wins in their last five games. Newton has an 18-10 TD-interception ratio.
Winner Drew Brees won’t be going to the playoffs this season, but he led the Saints to a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16. Brees and the Saints are certainly disappointed that there won’t be any playoffs, but they have not quite. Brees threw for 446 yards and three TDs vs. the Cowboys and he has thrown 36 TD passes this season.
The Panthers may have performed poorly in the first half of the season, but they are much-improved on the offensive end. Wide receiver Steve Smith has caught 70 passes for 1,101 yards and he is still one of the toughest receivers in the league. Tight end Greg Olsen can make the tough catches to keep drives alive on third downs.
Winner Wide receiver Marques Colston is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the league. He has caught 78 passes for 1,102 yards and 10 TDs. Jimmy Graham is a hybrid tight end who can make tough catches over the middle and stretch the field on deep patterns. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas give the Saints a competent ground game.
Winner The Panthers have the talent to become a dominant defensive team next season. They rank 10th overall on defense and 10th against the pass. Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are both explosive pass rushers. The Panthers know that rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly will anchor their defensive for the next five years.
Winner The Saints struggle with positioning and tackling on the defensive side of the ball, but they do play with effort. However, they struggle to stop opponents through the air. They rank 31st overall in defense and 31st against the pass. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has a team-high 118 tackles.
Special Teams
The Panthers have struggled on special teams. Graham Gano has done a decent job since being installed as the placekicker. Punter Brad Nortman has a net average of 35.7 yards per kick.
Winner The Saints have had a decent season in their special teams coverage. Punter Thomas Morstead has had a very impressive season. He is averaging 50.5 yards per punt and he has a net average of 44.4 yards per attempt. Placekicker Garrett Hartley has made 17-of-21 field goal attempts.

The Winner Is

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Winner Saints
4 out of 4

The Saints have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league, but they have never mailed it in. They continue to play hard and they are capable of putting on an explosive offensive show every time they take the field. The Panthers are rolling and will be tough to beat in the season finale.


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  2. Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    Colin Kaepernick is under extreme pressure to produce at a high level. That has not been happening, and the 49ers are in danger of seeing their season fall apart.

  3. Peyton Manning (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0.
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    Peyton Manning appears to have come to terms with the deficiencies in his game at this point. He can no longer whistle the ball downfield at the last minute, and some medium-range passes are difficult as well.

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