CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 2: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the Chicago Bears at the Soldier Field on October 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Panthers 34 to 29. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The New Orleans Saints head to North Carolina to take on a struggling, but still hopeful Panthers squad.
Even at 1-3, the Carolina Panthers look like a much improved team over last year's iteration. Rookie Cam Newton is a major reason why, averaging 346.5 yards passing game. Okay, so he has just as many interceptions as touchdowns, he still has given the Panthers' offense some life where none existed last year. The Panthers can now hope to be competitive in every game they play this year, and if they can get a few bounces in this Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, they can begin staking their claim as a team of the future.
Of course, the Saints are still thinking Super Bowl with a 3-1 start on the season. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns to four interceptions. He still has a deep corps of receivers to throw to, as well as some decent run support behind Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. In the early going New Orleans still looks like the class of what appears to be a very strong NFC South.
Still, Cam Newton, a revitalized Steve Smith, and a dual-head running game behind James Stewart and DeAngelo Williams can't be counted out anymore. The Saints will surely be favored on the road, but the Panthers have established themselves as a team worth watching.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, October 9; 1:00pm ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Saints: WWL 870AM, 105.3FM
Panthers: 1110 AM WBT