I'm sure you haven't forgotten (and if you have, the national media will remind you) that the Saints had a bounty program implemented in previous seasons on certain quarterbacks to get them to play harder and in some cases, dirtier.
There were many quarterbacks on their list to go after, one of them named Cam Newton.
Last year the Panthers lost to the Saints in Week 5 of the regular season by a score of 30-27 in which Carolina had ample opportunities to win the game, but came up short.
In the final week of the regular season, the Panthers were demolished 45-17 by the Saints in a game that Carolina felt like New Orleans was running up the score.
“They broke a lot of records. I think they broke like 10 records against us. I'm fired up about that,” Panthers cornerback, Captain Munnerlyn said. “It's in my mind still and I know some guys on defense, we don't like that.”
This season the two teams meet for the first time in week two as both teams are already feeling a sense of urgency to get a win as the Panthers and Saints both lost in week one.
What to watch for:
Getting back to the run game
The Panthers use a spread-option attack on offense which is very popular in college football, but not in particularly in the NFL. Most of the time the running game is out of the shotgun formation without a lead-blocker and forces the backs to make reads to the outside or inside depending on how the defensive line plays it.
Last Sunday against the Buccaneers, the Panthers tied a franchise record for lowest rushing total for a single game with 10 yards. The read-option and end-arounds were fooling no one and if the Panthers hope to stay balanced they better get Mike Tolbert in the game to help block for their expensive running backs.
There's no doubt about it, there is going to be some backlash from the past in this game. Emotions will stir and players will get heated. The Panthers are going to have to keep their cool and maintain composure throughout if they want to win this game.
Drew Brees will make his fair-share of plays, but giving him free yards by-ways of penalties is just asking for trouble. I know the Panthers want revenge from last year's drumming in the final week and also because of the bounty, but let your play on the field be the retribution.
Pressuring Drew Brees
In week 17's matchup, the Saints accounted for 617 yards most of which was led by Brees who passed for 389 yards and five touchdowns. Although Carolina was without most of their defensive starters, their efforts to stop the Saints attack was poor.
If Carolina hopes to force stops it begins with getting pressure on Brees. Last week against the Buccaneers, the Panthers were able to get two sacks, four quarterback hurries, and six pass breakups. If they can get to Brees and disguise their defensive coverages, they should have a chance.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Saints 26.