Whoa…and just like that, we’re halfway through the 2014 season. The conclusion of tonight’s game will put the New Orleans Saints halfway through their schedule and not many would have guessed that, at best, they could be sitting at an even .500 at 4-4. The slow start was tough, but it already appears as if this team has finally showed up and tonight’s battle for first place in the NFC South with the Carolina Panthers is another opportunity to prove that despite their record, they are a legit threat. New Orleans sits at 3-4, while Carolina currently holds a slight edge at 3-4-1. The good news is, the NFC still doesn’t appear to have any unbeatable teams, like Seattle a year ago. Speaking of the Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions are 4-3 and looking very average. The Arizona Cardinals lead the NFC with a 6-1 record, while the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and Green Bay Packers follow behind with just two losses. A lot can happen over the final nine weeks of the season, so it’s essential that the Saints continue their hot play and who knows what could happen.
The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers are obviously very familiar with each other. Being in the same division since the Panthers entered the league nearly 20 years ago, the series is almost dead even with Carolina holding the 20-18 edge. Sean Payton is 7-7 against the Panthers, with the team’s splitting the season series in 2013.
The Saints continue to rank inside of the top-10 in all major offensive categories. They rank 2nd in total offense, averaging 445.3 yards per game, while ranking 5th in scoring, putting up 28.4 points per game. They also rank 2nd in the league in both 3rd down conversion percentage (51.2%) and total 1st downs (190). The only problem has been the turnovers, having given the ball away 12 times. When this team refrains from turning the ball over, they are dominant. New Orleans is 26-0 under Sean Payton when they do not commit a turnover. The Saints are currently ranked 27th in turnover ratio at -5. Continue reading