Friday, 05 November 2010 15:14

New Orleans Sports: Saints, Carolina, Hornets, Heat

Written by {ga=EdStaton}
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sportseditorSports in New Orleans, this weekend: The Saints (5-3) want to continue their physical throttling of quarterbacks when they go against the Carolina Panthers (1-6) on Sunday at noon at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.  Also, on Friday, the New Orleans Hornets take on the powerful Miami Heat and Lebron James.

Last week, the Saints got seven hits on Steelers quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger and held him to 279 yards  passing, This week's quarterback, Matt Moore, doesn't appear  to be much of a threat. Last week, he didn't complete any of his nine passes beyond 20 yards and only completed four further than 10 yards. The Panther don't figure to challenge the Saints deep.

A moribund  Panthers running attack will be even worse than last week without injured DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart was held to 30 yards rushing last week. The Panthers are 28th in rushing yards-per-game and 31st in yards-per-carry at 3.3.

Every armchair quarterback or bar stool coordinator understands the best way to limit an explosive offense is to keep it off the field. But Panthers coach John Fox believes you also can clip a high-flying offense by keeping it on the field.

"That's called ball-control defense," said Fox, who didn't get his contract renewed. "As long as you make them kick field goals."

The Saints have been held to one offensive touchdown twice in their last 23 games -- both times by the Panthers. Last month the Panthers gave up 383 yards and had a nearly 17-minute deficit in time of possession, but had a shot to win.

Fox has had success against Saints coach Sean Payton, who worked for Fox for three years with the Giants. Since Payton was hired by the Saints before the 2006 season, the Panthers are 6-3 against New Orleans and have held the Saints to 19.7 points per game.

Against other NFC South rivals during the same period, the Saints are 7-2 against Atlanta while averaging 27.1 points, and 5-4 vs. Tampa Bay with 24.7 points.

The Saints may be shorthanded at running back again this week as Reggie Bush is question mark and Pierre Thomas definitely out.

The good news for the Saints is cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer have healed and should play on Sunday. Rookie running back Chris Ivory has recovered from a concussion and is expected to handle most of the running.

Prediction: The Saints front seven and blitzing safeties should prevent Moore from completing many passes and the Painters are without their best runner and the other one is having a sub-par season. The line is 6 1/2 (it should be 10-14 points) and I'm picking the Saints to cover the spread and score a lot of points.

Other NFL weekend picks: Bills +2 1/2 over Bears; Chargers -2 1/2 over Texans; Cardinals +9 1/2 over Vikings;  Bucs +9 over Falcons; Jets -4 over Lions; Dolphins +5 1/2 over Ravens;  Patriots -4 1/2 over Browns (lock);  Giants - 6 1/2 over Seahawks (best bet); Raiders - 2 1/2 over Chiefs; Colts +3 over Eagles; Packers -7 1/2 over Cowboys (a bonus best bet) and the Steelers -5 over Bengals.

New Orleans Hornets:

The Hornets (4-0) take on the Miami Heat and their Big Three on Friday night at the Arena as the Bees will try to achieve their best start in franchise history with a victory. Miami is favored by 6 1/2 points.

Chris Paul leads Hornets in scoring (21.3), assists (9.0) and is adding 6.3 rebounds a game. He's led the Hornets to their third 4-0 season in five years.

"We're a defensive team this season," said Paul. "We're still trying to find our identity." Paul scored 25 points in Wednesday's 107-99 victory at Houston.

"We're nowhere near where we want to be, but we know that every night we step on the court--if we defend, we give ourselves a chance to win," said Paul.

Miami seeks its fifth straight win since losing its opener to Boston. The Heat (4-1) have won their last four games by an average of 22.8 points while holding opponents to 36.8 per cent shooting from the floor.

LaBron James did not practice on Thursday because of a shin bruise, but he played Tuesday against Minnesota. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said James will play against the Hornets.

Dwayne Wade has averaged 24.8 points in the last four games. Chris Bosh is averaging 13 points per game and is third  member of the Heat's Big Three.


Anybody need a 33-year-old three-point shooter with a well-rested arm? And a $15 million price tag. Four games into the season, a healthy Peja Stojakovic has already racked up a DNP on last Wednesday night. He was placed on the inactive list by Hornets coach Monty Williams. Stojakovic has been squeezed out of the lineup by the acquisition of Trevor Ariza...

by Ed Staton

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