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Preview: New Orleans at Carolina
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
A preseason full of promise has quickly fizzled for the New Orleans Saints, who have opened the season with two straight losses and may be without quarterback Drew Brees this week. Brees is questionable with a bruised rotator cuff as the winless Saints visit undefeated Carolina in a crucial NFC South matchup on Sunday.
Carolina edged Houston 24-17 last week despite the absence of All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who remains questionable with a concussion. Cam Newton played the role of Superman once again, hurdling into the end zone for the go-ahead score and throwing two touchdown passes. The Saints are in disarray and will start veteran Luke McCown if Brees can’t go. While New Orleans was among the preseason favorites to win the division, a loss will knock them three games behind the Panthers who once again appear to have one the league’s top defensive units.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Panthers -3.5. O/U: 45.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (0-2): Durability has never been a question for Brees, who has not missed a game in his 15-year NFL career due to injury. Brees, who said he is pretty confident he will play on Sunday, ranks fifth in the NFL with 610 yards passing but has just two touchdowns in losses to the Cardinals on the road and at home versus the Buccaneers last week. New Orleans dropped its sixth straight at home last week, a game in which running back C.J. Spiller made an inauspicious debut with just nine yards on a three carries and was seen with his knee wrapped on the sidelines.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (2-0): Kuechly wasn’t ruled out until a day before last week’s game and his status for this week is still uncertain, but his replacement, A.J. Klein, had an interception and four tackles against the Texans. Carolina followed a 2-0 start last season with a dreadful 1-8-1 mark but still reached the playoffs with a sub-.500 mark. Carolina ranks fifth in the NFL in total defense, but offensively they’ve struggled as Ted Ginn leads all receivers with just 95 yards over two games.
1. Saints free safety Jairus Byrd, who had knee surgery last October, remains questionable.
2. Carolina is riding a six-game regular-season winning streak.
3. New Orleans is averaging just 79 yards rushing on the season, which ranks 26th in the league.
PREDICTION: Panthers 23, Saints 21