Saints-Panthers Scouting Report

WHEN: Noon Sunday

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz
Superdome, New Orleans

TV/RADIO: Fox/WTGE
(100.7-FM), WWL-AM (870-AM, 105.3-FM)

RECORDS: Panthers, 6-9; Saints, 7-8

LAST WEEK: Panthers
defeated the Oakland Raiders, 17-6; Saints defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-31 (OT)

COACHES: Panthers, Ron Rivera, 2nd season (12-19); Saints, Joe Vitt, 2nd season (9-11)

NFL RANKINGS

Offense (league rank in
parentheses)

Points: Panthers, 20.9 (21); Saints, 28.2 (3)

Total yards: Panthers, 349.4 (17); Saints, 408.9 (3)

Rushing: Panthers, 121.0 (10); Saints, 100.9 (24)

Passing: Panthers, 228.4 (17); Saints, 307.9 (2)

Defense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Panthers, 21.7 (13); Saints, 27.3 (28)

Total yards: Panthers, 325.9 (8); Saints, 434.1 (32)

Rushing: Panthers, 113.2 (15); Saints, 139.2 (29)

Passing: Panthers, 212.7 (8); Saints, 294.9 (31)

KEY PLAYERS

Panthers: QB Cam Newton, WR Steve Smith, TE Greg Olsen, DE Greg Hardy, DE Charles Johnson, CB Captain Munnerlyn.

Saints: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, RB Darren Sproles, LDE Cameron Jordan, MLB Curtis Lofton, P Thomas Morstead.

SCOUTING REPORT

Offense: The Panthers rank only 17th in total yards, but they’re 10th in rushing behind Cam Newton’s club-leading 707 yards and eight TDs. Wide receiver Steve Smith continues to play at a high level in his 12th season with 70 catches for 1,101 yards and four TDs.

Defense: Carolina ranks eighth in total defense in allowing 325.9 yards a game and eighth against the pass. Ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are a solid 1-2 pass rush duo with 211/2 sacks. In their current three-game winning streak, they’ve given up 33 total points.

Special teams: Kicker Graham Gano has missed just one field-goal attempt since replacing an inconsistent Justin Medlock, while rookie punter Brad Nortman averages just 42.8 gross yards and 36.4 net. The Panthers haven’t distinguished themselves in kick returns or kick coverage this season.

PANTHERS FACTS

The Panthers have two players with Louisiana ties on their roster — former LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell and rookie defensive end Frank Alexander. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Alexander is a Southern Lab grad who played collegiately at Oklahoma. … Offensive line coach John Matsko served in the same capacity with the Saints from 1994 to 1996. Matsko was a college teammate of former LSU coach Nick Saban at Kent State in the early 1970s. … Sam Mills III, the son of former Saints linebacker Sam Mills, is an assistant defensive line coach with the Panthers. … The Panthers lead the series, 18-17, but the Saints have won five of the last seven matchups.

Compiled by Sheldon Mickles