With the Carolina Panthers set to take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 18, all eyes will be on this final matchup of the season for both teams. Ahead of this Panthers-Saints game, we will be making our Panthers Week 18 predictions.
The Carolina Panthers 2022 campaign has not gone to plan. Heading into Week 18, they are 6-10. With their season all but over, they can still end the year with a win. But to do that, they will need to take down an NFC South opponent, the New Orleans Saints.
Heading into 2022, there were high expectations for the Panthers. With Matt Rhule locked in as the head coach, and quarterback Baker Mayfield earning the starting nod, it appeared that this team was headed in the right direction. The offense had elite potential with both running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore leading the charge. On defense, Jeremy Chinn and Brian Burns were set to lead a promising young group.
Instead, the Panthers struggled to find success. After a 2-7 start, the team opted to head in a different direction. This included firing Rhule, trading McCaffrey, and releasing Mayfield.
This has ultimately led to them being in the position that they are in now. At the moment, they are projected to have a top-10 selection in the 2023 NFL draft.
But even with a top pick in play, the team will once again give it their all on the field. This could lead to a strong finish to their 2022 season. Here are three bold predictions for the Panthers as they take on the Saints in Week 18.
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D’onta Foreman and Chubba Hubbard dominate
With the departure of McCaffrey earlier in the season, the door was opened for both D’Onta Foreman and Chubba Hubbard to take over their backfield. In expanded roles, they have not disappointed.
Heading into Week 18, Foreman has looked like the Panthers potential permanent RB1. He has recorded 846 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 191 total carries.
Hubbard has also been productive. On the season, he has recorded 397 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 74 total carries.
This backfield duo has been elite at times this season. In Week 16, as the Panthers took on the Detroit Lions, both running backs were dominant. The pair combined for 290 rushing yards and one touchdown on 33 total carries.
Now, as the Panthers take on the Saints, this pairing could once again be in for a big day. The Saints have struggled against the run at times this season, allowing 2,047 yards and 14 touchdowns over 17 games.
In this matchup between two divisional opponents, both sides will be looking to head into the offseason with a win. The Panthers running backs could ultimately control the outcome of this matchup.
Sam Darnold and DJ Moore connect for 2+ touchdowns
Sam Darnold has arguably been the best quarterback to take the field for the Panthers this season. Through his five appearances, he has thrown for 1,100 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception. On the ground, he has added 74 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 total carries.
Last week, as the Panthers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Darnold delivered his best outing of the season. In the 30-24 loss, he threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Along with Darnold’s recent success, Panthers WR1 DJ Moore has also been on a hot streak. Over his last three games, he has recorded 16 receptions for 273 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Over this stretch, he has recorded a touchdown reception in each game.
On the season, Moore has been the bright spot of the Panthers passing attack. Even with a revolving door of quarterbacks, he has recorded 62 receptions for 878 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns.
The Saints secondary has been the bright spot of their defense this season. They have allowed just 3,102 passing yards and 17 touchdowns on the year. But with their struggles against the run, this could lead to the Panthers offense opening up. In turn, Darnold and Moore could connect early and often.
The Panthers head into the offseason with a win
The first time that the Panthers took on the Saints, back in Week 3, it ended with them earning a 22-14 victory. This could very well be the case once again.
The Panthers have been on a hot streak as of late, winning three straight games. But each contest has been close and they have had to work for it. Over this three-game win streak, they have not scored more than 21 points, and have taken down three teams who each have their own share of problems at the moment.
The Panthers have the ability to take down this Saints team, and they have already shown that this season. With their strong defense and talented offense, they could limit the Saints on both sides of the ball. This could lead to a strong finish to their 2022 campaign.