1:00 PM ET, October 9, 2011
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
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.
More from ESPN.com
Panthers bring back DT Cole, 34, for 1 year
The Carolina Panthers reached a one-year deal with veteran defensive tackle Colin Cole on Tuesday.
Source: Hardy eyes immediate reinstatement
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement into the NFL, a league source told ESPN.com.
Williams: Panthers left me when mom died
Panthers all-time leading rusher DeAngelo Williams says as a result of the way the organization treated the death of his mother to breast cancer in May that he wasn't upset when told last week he would be released.
RB Williams: Panthers released me last week
The Carolina Panthers have released franchise leading rusher DeAngelo Williams, according to a Charlotte television station.
Saints-Panthers: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Saints-Panthers matchup.
1. Bring some heat: New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is a master at bringing a heavy blitz package when opponents least expect it. With rookie quarterback Cam Newton exceeding expectations in Carolina, we can expect Williams to blitz heavily. No quarterback likes to take a constant pounding, and even one as big as Newton can suffer the effects of a lot of pressure.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||25.0||26.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NO|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NO|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 11-11|
|Nov 7, 2010||NO 34, @CAR 3|
|Oct 3, 2010||NO 16, CAR 14|
|Jan 3, 2010||NO 10, @CAR 23|
|Nov 8, 2009||NO 30, CAR 20|
|Dec 28, 2008||NO 31, CAR 33|
|Oct 19, 2008||NO 7, @CAR 30|
|Nov 25, 2007||NO 31, @CAR 6|
|Oct 7, 2007||NO 13, CAR 16|
|Dec 31, 2006||NO 21, CAR 31|
|Oct 1, 2006||NO 18, @CAR 21|
|Dec 18, 2005||NO 10, CAR 27|
|Sep 11, 2005||NO 23, @CAR 20|
|Jan 2, 2005||NO 21, @CAR 18|
|Dec 5, 2004||NO 21, CAR 32|
|Oct 26, 2003||NO 20, CAR 23|
|Oct 5, 2003||NO 13, @CAR 19|
|Dec 29, 2002||NO 6, CAR 10|
|Nov 10, 2002||NO 34, @CAR 24|
|Dec 2, 2001||NO 27, CAR 23|
|Oct 14, 2001||NO 27, @CAR 25|