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ROAD WARRIORS: Saints Seek Another Win in the “Queen City” of Charlotte vs. Panthers

(6-1). That’s the record as the visiting team for the New Orleans Saints this season; and with a win this Monday Night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina against their NFC South Division rivals the Panthers, the Black and Gold can equal the team record for most road wins in a single season (when they won the Super Bowl back in 2009).

As of this very moment, the Panthers hold a very slight (24-23) edge in the series, as well as a slim advantage in the games played in the Carolinas (12-11).

However: the two divisional rivals are tied at (11-11) in the games played in the “Queen City” of Charlotte.

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

The Panthers won the first game EVER played between the two teams over 23 years ago back on October 22, 1995 (a 20-3 Carolina victory); but that game was played at Memorial Stadium on the Clemson University campus in South Carolina.

The following year in 1996, the Panthers moved into their brand new stadium located in downtown Charlotte; which was originally named “Ericsson Stadium” before Bank of America purchased the corporate naming rights in 2004.

Counting that 1st loss at Clemson, South Carolina, New Orleans actually lost 4 out of their first 5 games on the road between the two teams; with the Saints’ initial road victory coming during the 1997 season by a score of 16-13.

As it turns out: the Saints haven’t exactly been “road warriors” at Charlotte since the arrival of head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees prior to the 2006 NFL season.

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

Payton is (5-6) on the road against the Panthers dating back to 2006, not counting the 2012 NFL season; which Payton missed due to a year-long suspension by the League in the alleged “BountyGate” scandal.

Brees meanwhile owns an even (5-5) road record against the Panthers as the Saints starting QB.

Brees has missed 2 games in his thirteen years with the Saints in away games against Carolina: the 2009 season finale (when the team rested Brees and many of their starters for the playoffs), and also in Week #3 of the 2015 season after injuring his shoulder against Tampa Bay the week right before (subsequently resulting in a valiant effort by back-up QB Luke McCown in a 27-22 Saints loss).

On the flip side of things, Panthers 8th year QB Cam Newton has a losing record against the Saints at Bank of America Stadium. Newton has a (7-7) record all-time vs, New Orleans; but is (3-4) against the Black and Gold in games played in Charlotte.

Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Perhaps one thing that might prove to be advantageous for both teams would be an uptick in points put up on the scoreboard at Bank of America Stadium on Monday Night.

The Panthers are averaging nearly 22 points per game in the all-time series as the home team, while the Saints have averaged just under 20 points per game as the visiting team.

Newton and company might find those points a bit difficult to come by however, since the Saints defense has been on a roll since their early-season struggles in games at home against Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

In their last 11 games, the Saints defense is second in the league in points allowed over that span (18.0 per game), first in run defense (75.6 yards per game), second in sacks (35) and tied for third in takeaways (19).

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

However, the same could be said about New Orleans in that regard as well.

While the Saints offense is still ranked 2nd overall in scoring (447 total points for a 34.4 points per game average) behind #1 ranked Kansas City (35.6), they’ve struggled notably in the past two games on the road:

In the loss to Dallas two weeks ago and then again for the entire 1st half in their win last week at Tampa Bay.

Although the Saints appeared to break out of their “slump” against the Bucs in that 2nd half of the 28-14 victory, the Panthers defense is still quite capable of giving the Saints a hard time; and especially while defending their home turf at Bank of America.

JASON BEHNKEN AP PHOTO

That of course will mean that the Saints will once again have to play well on the road, and for what they hope will be the final time until the one road-trip that every team wants to take ― to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia for Super Bowl LIII (53).

A task that may not prove to be all that difficult, for an (11-2) Saints team that’s become “road warriors” in the year 2018….

 

 

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Saints News Network Featured Columnist (and Big Easy Magazine's Saints writer) Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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