The NFC South will be won in the final quarter of the season. That is where we are at as we enter the final month of football. Atlanta and New Orleans with wins last weekend moved two games ahead of Carolina and three ahead of Tampa Bay. The Saints will face division opponents in three of those final four games beginning with this weekend’s matchup against Carolina. Chicago who played Thursday night against Dallas awaits the Saints next Monday night, and then it’s the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to close out the season.

Atlanta is at Green Bay on Monday night then host Pittsburgh before facing the Saints and finishing at home against the Panthers.

New Orleans is coming off of their most impressive game last week with their 35-32 win at Pittsburgh, a game where the score was much closer than the game really was. New Orleans led 35-16 with 10:50 to play in the 4th quarter. QB Drew Brees tossed 5 TDs and no interceptions as RB Mark Ingram and WR Kenny Stills led the offense while the defense made just enough plays to win despite giving up 538 yards to the Steelers.

Carolina has lost six in a row and have looked bad in most if not all of those games, last week losing to Minnesota 31-13 in a game where the Vikings ran back two blocked punts for TDs. Head coach Ron Rivera had to answer questions as the start of the week if QB Cam Newton was still the future at quarterback for the franchise, a question to which he said yes to, but it gives you an idea of how Panthers football is going right now. Carolina at 3-8 is having to defend Newton in part to his league-worst 70.5 passer rating. The Panthers offense is non existent as they’ve averaged 14.0 points over the last five games and allowed a league-worst 31.0 points per game since Week 3.


Mental makeup is the top key for me this week. How does a team respond when the ship is clearly taking on water and is dangerously close to sinking? Following the Bengals loss, players verbally pointed fingers, coaches blamed themselves and fans walked out of the Superdome before a game ended for the first time in a long long time because the Saints were not going to come back and win. That by the way was in the early 4th quarter. You can add fans being called out by players to the list of junk that came out of that Bengals loss, despite CB Corey White admitting after the game that a Bengals touchdown with 13:49 to play in the 4th was the nail in the coffin.

This is simple to me. It’s not about us in the media or you the fans in terms of making the most noise or not abandoning ship. You have five games left and miraculously awake in first place this morning. If you can’t come out and play with passion and desire tonight, well you’re showing fans just who exactly they SHOULD be rooting for and whose jerseys they should be.


The most impressive thing from Sunday’s win over the Steelers to me was that QB Drew Brees took what the defense gave him. Pittsburgh said TE Jimmy Graham was not going to beat us. Brees said no problem other guys will and he threw to WR Kenny Stills who has 13 catches for 260 yards in the last two games.

RB Mark Ingram in the first meeting this season rushed for 100 yards and scored twice in an effort that was key to establishing a mindset on the road. RB Khiry Robinson is returning to the field as well to add yet another battering ram to the attack against a defense that is struggling.

Establishing a run game early or at least showing you will stay with it will help open the passing game, something Brees mentioned several times this week. Graham should then have some operating room and WR Joe Morgan along with Stills could take advantage of a secondary that saw starting CB Antoine Cason be waived and add practice squad player Carrington Byndom.


538 yards to Pittsburgh was the final tally, which upped their average yards allowed per game, now to 390.5 yards good for 31st in the NFL. Over the last three games the numbers have been horrifying. 464.0 yards and 31 points are the average totals.

The good thing is the Panthers are having tons of trouble producing points. Their run game is struggling and RB DeAngelo Williams broke a bone in his right hand last week but he’s still expected to play. Bottom line if the Saints can stop the Panther’s attempt at a run game then Cam Newton will have a long day. The Saints back on October 30 held Newton to a career-worst 10 of 28 performance for just 151 yards and sacked him four times in the 28-10 win. Newton had two turnovers in that game and since that meeting with the Saints has thrown six interceptions in three games.

It again comes down to the guys up front. Stop the run and things will go well for an already frustrated Newton.


OLB Junior Galette this week laid down a verbal boom when asked to compare released veterans on the Panthers roster such as WR Steve Smith and veterans released by the Saints. Galette believes Smith would help Newton in times like this when the team is playing poorly. However, when comparing the release of veterans Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper, and Malcolm Jenkins, Galette says the players playing in their spot today are better. Smith took to Twitter to call out Galette. Junior could fire back in a way that’s beneficial to his team by coming out Sunday and being an impact player. I look for him to prove his verbal points with a sack or two of Newton.

TE Jimmy Graham was held to zero catches last week at Pittsburgh made sure he would not beat them. It opened up the passing game to everyone else however. I see Graham having an impact game offensively as the Panthers are very weak in the secondary.


Conventional wisdom would make you believe that based on last week’s performance the Saints should have a “W” in the bag against a struggling team but we’re speaking about a team that before the Steelers game had lost three straight AT HOME.

I’ve been asked several times this week about this week and this team. The thing is no one knows. I truly believe they don’t. The talent is there and the ability is there but it’s the players making the plays and executing the game plan.

The Saints miraculously have yet another shot at making the playoffs but winning the NFC South. They have the more favorable schedule over the Falcons. Will they take it this time however?

The Saints have won four of the past five meetings played in the Superdome and I believe they make it five of the last six as they win 34-13.

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