Final

Saints 30

(4-1, 2-1 away)

Panthers 27

(1-4, 1-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 9, 2011

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 10 10 3 730
CAR 6 7 7 727

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 359 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Williams (CAR) - 9 CAR, 115 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: J. Graham (NO) - 8 REC, 129 YDS

Saints-Panthers Preview

STATS LLC

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have had little trouble piling up yards, points and victories.

The Carolina Panthers have been almost as efficient at moving the ball down the field behind rookie Cam Newton, but costly mistakes have subsequently resulted in fewer scores and wins.

In a matchup between two potent offenses from the NFC South, Brees looks to lead the Saints to a fourth straight victory Sunday against Newton and the Panthers, who are coming off another disappointing defeat.

New Orleans (3-1) is second in the league in offense, averaging 471.5 yards, while Carolina is third with an average of 451.8. The Saints, who swept the season series from the Panthers last year for the first time since 2001, are also near the top of the NFL in scoring, ranking fifth with an average of 31.8 points. The Panthers (1-3), however, are well off that pace at 17th with an average of 22.3 points.

Carolina's offensive shortcomings were on full display in last Sunday's 34-29 loss to Chicago.

Although the Panthers had a season high in points, miscues prevented them from getting more. While Carolina amassed a franchise-record 543 yards, Newton had an interception returned for a touchdown and Olindo Mare missed one field goal and had another blocked.

The Panthers also failed to come up with critical first downs, converting just 2 of 12 third-down attempts. They're converting 32.7 percent of their third downs, ranking 22nd.

"We're playing good enough to win," first-year coach Ron Rivera said. "We are continuing to do things to hurt ourselves more so than anything else. We played a good team (Sunday), and we didn't give ourselves a chance to win. I told our guys it's hard enough beating one team let alone two."

The Panthers had similar problems in their first two losses, squandering second-half leads over Arizona in their opener and over Green Bay in Week 2.

"If you really go back and look at it, every game we've lost, we've had an opportunity to finish somebody off," Rivera said. "As the rest of us catch up to what's happening with Cam -- because I think some of us aren't growing at the same pace -- when the rest of us catch up with him, I think we can be a better football team,"

Newton has accounted for all nine of Carolina's touchdowns, and is the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown passes and four rushing TDs in his first four career games. That doesn't mean much for him, however, as he would much rather have his team atop the division.

"For a person to tell me you can't win them all, that's a loser's mentality," he said. "I play the game and I want to win every single game I play. Obviously it hurts when I lose."

Newton has thrown for only 24 fewer yards than Brees, who ranks second in the NFL with 1,410 yards, but has an unflattering touchdown-to-interception ratio. Whereas Brees has 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, Newton has five of each.

Brees isn't coming off of one of his best performances, however, and like the Panthers, the Saints had trouble getting the ball in the end zone.

In last Sunday's 23-10 win over Jacksonville, New Orleans racked up 503 yards, but Brees threw two interceptions, John Kasay missed two long field goals and the Saints managed nine second-half points.

Brees is eager to get New Orleans, second in the NFL in third down conversions at 55.2 percent, again firing on all cylinders.

"If you had told us before the game that you're going to have 500 yards of total offense, we would have thought that's 40 points," said the five-time Pro Bowler, who is averaging 311.0 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions in his last four games against Carolina. "Unfortunately, it was 23 points because we got inside the 20 three times in the second half and didn't come away with touchdowns.

"So that's disappointing, but we feel we have proven that we can move the ball. Now we just got to score touchdowns."

Brees and the Saints should have better luck against a Carolina team that has allowed at least 28 points in three of its four games. The lone exception was a 16-10 Week 3 win over offensively inept Jacksonville, in which rookie Blaine Gabbert was making his first start.

New Orleans also had little trouble slowing down the Jaguars, but allowed an average of 372.7 yards and 29.3 points in its first three games.

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Passing Leaders

New OrleansCMP%YDSTDINT
D. Brees68.651623912
CarolinaCMP%YDSTDINT
C. Newton61.733792413

Rushing Leaders

New OrleansCARYDSAVGTD
P. Thomas1475493.72
M. Ingram783864.91
CarolinaCARYDSAVGTD
D. Williams2018434.23
C. Newton1115855.36

Receiving Leaders

New OrleansRECYDSAVGTD
J. Graham86121514.116
M. Colston7594312.65
CarolinaRECYDSAVGTD
G. Olsen7381611.26
S. Smith6474511.64

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

TEAM OFFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Total YardsNO
 
 467
CAR
 
 390
Yards PassingNO
 
 334
CAR
 
 239
Yards RushingNO
 
 133
CAR
 
 151
TEAM DEFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Yards AllowedNO
 
 368
CAR
 
 378
Pass Yds AllowedNO
 
 260
CAR
 
 247
Rush Yds AllowedNO
 
 109
CAR
 
 131

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Series tied 11-11
Nov 7, 2010NO 34, @CAR 3
Oct 3, 2010NO 16, CAR 14
Jan 3, 2010NO 10, @CAR 23
Nov 8, 2009NO 30, CAR 20
Dec 28, 2008NO 31, CAR 33
Oct 19, 2008NO 7, @CAR 30
Nov 25, 2007NO 31, @CAR 6
Oct 7, 2007NO 13, CAR 16
Dec 31, 2006NO 21, CAR 31
Oct 1, 2006NO 18, @CAR 21
Dec 18, 2005NO 10, CAR 27
Sep 11, 2005NO 23, @CAR 20
Jan 2, 2005NO 21, @CAR 18
Dec 5, 2004NO 21, CAR 32
Oct 26, 2003NO 20, CAR 23
Oct 5, 2003NO 13, @CAR 19
Dec 29, 2002NO 6, CAR 10
Nov 10, 2002NO 34, @CAR 24
Dec 2, 2001NO 27, CAR 23
Oct 14, 2001NO 27, @CAR 25