Panthers vs Saints
(Sunday 4:25pm ET on FOX)
Both teams are 8-3 and atop the NFC South, though the Saints enjoy the tie-breaker having won their previous meeting this season 34-13. The Saints had their eight-game winning streak snapped last week when they fell 26-20 to the Los Angeles Rams, a game in which Saints rookie corner Marshon Lattimore was sorely missed. Lattimore was originally hurt the previous week, missing much of the Saints’ epic comeback against the Redskins with a bum ankle.
With first place in the NFC South on the line, one gets the sense he’ll find the strength to suit up. The Panthers have now won four in a row following their 35-27 win over the Jets, in which Carolina scored back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard fumble return by Luke Kuechly, and 60-yard punt return by Kaelin Clay. Those scores allowed the Panthers to overcome a brutal 11-for-28, 168-yard effort from Cam Newton. Newton’s been pretty awful of late, completing 112 of 205 for 1,163 with six touchdowns and six interceptions. An injured right thumb has him listed as questionable – maybe it’s a blessing for the Panthers.
Niners wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who leads the league in yards per reception at 21.4, got hurt Sunday during the team’s 24-13 loss to the Seahawks, leaving in the third quarter with a foot injury that has him questionable for this week’s game against Chicago. The injury comes just a week after it was revealed that Goodwin’s wife had lost their unborn son to complications with the pregnancy. Rams defensive end Connor Barwin hurt his arm during his team’s 26-20 win over New Orleans, and his status for this week against the Cardinals is up in the air.
Brawl Earns Crabtree & Talib One-Game Vacations
The Oakland Raiders’ Michael Crabtree and the Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib got into it Sunday when Crabtree blocked Talib well out of bounds and down to the ground, a retaliation for Talb having snatched a chain from his neck last season. A brawl ensued, toward the end of which Talib proved himself to be both a coward and a terrible fighter, as he misfired a punch at a helmet-less Crabtree while still safely helmeted. The league originally announced they were each suspended for two games, but it was reduced to one. Given that their teams have combined for fewer wins than the Patriots, the suspensions are unlikely to have much bearing on the playoff hunt.
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