(Photo credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Derek Carr and Bryce Young will kick start a new NFC South rivalry when the New Orleans Saints visit the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
After nine seasons with the Raiders, Carr won his first game as the Saints' quarterback while throwing a touchdown in a 16-15 Week 1 victory against Tennessee. He visited Carolina before signing with New Orleans in free agency, contributing to the Panthers trading up to select Young with the No. 1 overall pick.
Young began his NFL career by throwing for 146 yards with a touchdown against two interceptions in last week's 24-10 loss at Atlanta.
The Saints intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times in the opener and their defense presents a very difficult challenge for Young in just his second career start. The consensus 3.0-point line for New Orleans is a dicey one, lending us to watch for a key half-point swing ahead of kickoff.
Prediction: Saints 20, Panthers 16
Both teams want to be able to establish the run early. That's especially true for the Panthers, who need to provide favorable down-and-distance situations for Young. It also doesn't help that Carolina lost guard Brady Christensen to a season-ending injury in Week 1.
The Saints will again be without suspended running back Alvin Kamara. They rushed for only 69 yards in the opener, led by Jamaal Williams with 8 carries for 45 yards -- with Tony Jones Jr. getting a lone carry.
"If we're going to go where we want to go," Carr said, "the running game is going to be a big part of it."
Look for New Orleans to play a field-position game, with that ground game getting a thorough workout if the Saints can build a lead. The third-most popular player prop for the game at BetMGM has been Carr to throw for less than 230.5 yards at -115, and we like the Under as well.
9 - The Saints' current streak of games holding opponents to 20 points or less.
THEY SAID IT
--"Every step for Bryce is a new step in the NFL. But at the same time, he's played on a big stage his whole life. So enjoy the moment." -- Panthers coach Frank Reich, who made the first start of his career as an NFL quarterback in 1989 on "Monday Night Football."
--"There were a couple of plays where I felt like I left points on the field. On offense all 11 guys have to do the right thing in order for a play to work." -- Carr on his Saints debut in Week 1.
The Panthers are expected to start Nash Jensen at left guard in Christensen's place. Cornerback Jaycee Horn was placed on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury, while wide receiver D.J. Chark is listed as questionable after missing the opener with his own hamstring issue.
The Saints are close to full health entering the game. Defensive back Juantavius Gray (shoulder) is questionable along with rookie running back Kendre Miller (hamstring), who was inactive in Week 1.
--Field Level Media