How did the Saints' next three opponents fare through week two?
An opening night victory over the Minnesota Vikings showed the Saints were ready for the new season and prepared to face all comers. Fans watched in week two as the champs traveled to San Francisco and escaped with a last second win thanks to Garrett Hartley. It just goes to show you that one never knows who is going to come out ahead and you can't just go by how a team performs one week in order to determine how they'll play the next.
Teams will still use past performances in order to prepare for their next opponent and that is what the Saints had to do when they played the 49ers. San Francisco opened the season by getting destroyed in Seattle yet came back and almost took down the black and gold. People were thinking it wasn't a trap game because the Saints knew what they were getting into when stepping on the field at Candlestick Park, but I'm sure they still weren't expecting the excellence with which Alex Smith led that team toward the end zone all night.
With that being said, the Saints are prepping for their first NFC South divisional game of the season this Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons visit the Superdome. Actually, New Orleans will play two divisional games in the next two weeks so let's check how their upcoming opponents have looked through week two.
~ Atlanta Falcons (1-1) defeated Arizona 41-7: Matt Ryan and the offense looked kind of rusty in a week one loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they certainly rebounded in week two. It was a veritable explosion of offense with Matt Ryan throwing for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns making it seem as it the Cardinals' defense wasn't even on the field. Then things appeared to take a turn for the worst as starting running back Michael Turner went down with an injury. Soon after, back-up running back Jerious Norwood also got injured and it would be up to third-stringer Jason Snelling to try and pick up the slack. And that's just what he did. Snelling came in and rushed for 129 yards, had another 57 yards receiving, and accounted for 3 touchdowns. Not too shabby when the back that's third on your depth chart can come in and pile up almost 200 yards of total offense all on his own.
The Falcons' defense has only allowed 22 total points this season and are looking extremely strong which doesn't bode well for a Saints' offense that hasn't quite found their groove yet. Whether they'll find it this week or not against guys like John Abraham and Dunta Robinson remains to be seen; especially with Reggie Bush no longer a factor.
~ Carolina Panthers (0-2) lost 20-7 to Tampa Bay: Nothing is going right for the Panthers and I mean absolutely nothing. My prediction last week was that rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen "might" be starting for Carolina by the time they play the Saints in week four. Well, looks as if I was right but one week off. Matt Moore's stint as taking over for Jake Delhomme lasted a mere one and a half games before John Fox realized it was time for a change. Clausen came in and did a bit better at leading the team, but still couldn't do enough to mount a decent enough come back against Tampa Bay.
The most surprising aspect of the Panthers' slow start is not that they are winless through two games because a lot of people expected them to have a losing record this season, but it's the futility of the rushing attack. Carolina has two bruising backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart but they did next to nothing in week one against the Giants and that lack of production continued against the Buccaneers. The duo combined for only 97 yards and no scores against a defense that is built of only a few veterans and a bunch of untested younger players. If they're going to continue to be this bad in both the passing and rushing departments on offense, then John Fox may not be in for a long season but a really short one as his seat is getting hotter week by week.
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