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NFL’s Top Offenses Slowing Late In Season, As Shown By Saints’ 12-9 Win Over Panthers

Sports News With NFL The high-flying offenses have come back to earth, sometimes with a thud. The New Orleans Saints may be 12-2 after their 12-9 victory over the...

Sports News With NFL

The high-flying offenses have come back to earth, sometimes with a thud.

The New Orleans Saints may be 12-2 after their 12-9 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, but they’ve been winning recently on the strength of their defense. The offense’s lack of outside speed and receivers with big bodies is showing up.

The Los Angeles Rams are 11-3, but they’ve lost their last two games and opponents seem to have figured out how to muffle that potent scheme.

The New England Patriots are 9-5, have lost two games in a row, and are making uncharacteristic mental mistakes (on the field and on the sideline, where coach Bill Belichick stands).

This trend would also back the contention of ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, a former quarterback, who says “12-14 teams legit” have a shot at winning the Super Bowl.

A month ago, the outcry was that no one could stop anyone, and much of it followed the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on a Monday night. The Chiefs have been held under 30 points in each of their last two games (which is still pretty good scoring by a team that has scored 30 or nine times).

The Saints and Panthers are bitter rivals and the Panthers (6-8) ought to sit quarterback Cam Newton down for the final weeks of a non-playoff season before his right shoulder is permanently damaged. He clearly cannot throw the ball downfield, and that was a gift to the Saints.

As weather becomes more of a factor in outdoor stadiums, defenses start to pick up an edge. Offenses with a strong running attack can turn even more in that direction, which shortens the game and holds down scoring.

This is no prediction that the Super Bowl itself won’t be some kind of wild, high-scoring affair. It will be played indoors in Atlanta. But the road there may be marked by some defensive struggles.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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