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Saints VS Panthers : Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

If the players weren’t convinced that Sean Payton meant what he said after the humiliating loss to the Rams last week, they are now. When Payton gives a wake up call, he doesn’t mess around, gone are Garrett Hartley and Chris Carr while Charles Brown has been benched.

Terron Armstead will start at tackle for the Saints in what amounts to a game where the NFC South and the #2 seed in the NFC will be determined. I can’t remember the last time a team that was in the Saints position made two such moves at this point in the season.

Payton made the right moves, maybe he should have done something after the Seattle game, but with the performance the team displayed against the Rams something had to be done. Charles Brown being replaced is not just about the St. Louis game, he leads the team, not just the offensive line, in penalties through 14 games with 11 penalties. 6 were for holding, 3 for illegal use of hands and 2 were false starts.

So in my mind the question isn’t only about Armstead’s ability to do a better job protecting Brees, it’s also about cutting down on the costly penalties that kill drives. To be sure Armstead won’t be out on an island by himself, there are a lot of ways that Payton can help him out, backs and tight ends chipping the defensive end for example.

The question now left is besides the Rams fiasco and now Payton waking the team up is how will the Saints respond against a Carolina in what is the biggest game of the season?

There’s been a lot of talk about how this team was going to play with a chip on their shoulder this season. This is the game that will tell us what the Saints are made of. Pure and simple, a win will let the league know that the Saints can win a big game on the road, it will let them know that the Saints have the resolve to stick together and overcome the previous mistakes they’ve made.

A loss will pretty much wrap up the season, even if the Saints could still manage to limp into the playoffs, a loss at Carolina still tells everyone who is watching that the Saints can’t win on the road and since wild cards team play all of their games on the road, making it to the Super Bowl would be a pipe dream.

My money is on Payton, there aren’t a lot of coaches with the moxie that it takes to make the changes that he has made this week with the huge game that is coming up. Payton also isn’t the type to make changes without having something in mind, and I have no doubt that he has a surprise or two in mind for the Panthers on Sunday. The question is will the players by in and come into the game like a junkyard dog with it’s back against the wall?

That’s where the Saints are at this point in the season and that’s the mindset they need to come out against the Panthers with.

All things considered, I still think the Saints are the better team, I’m going with my Saints in a close one . 24 – 17


Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

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