At the half: Panthers shocking, Saints not

October, 2, 2011
10/02/11
2:33
PM ET
A few random thoughts on the two early NFC South games at halftime.
  • Carolina’s very much in its game with the Bears. Chicago leads 24-20, but rookie quarterback Cam Newton is having a nice day. He bounced back after throwing an early interception that was returned for a touchdown. Newton’s thrown for 199 yards and run for two touchdowns.
  • Carolina’s Steve Smith is having a huge day. He already has six catches for 153 yards. Makes you wonder why Atlanta’s receivers had so much trouble getting open deep against the vaunted Cover Two in the season opener?
  • The Bears have kept the ball out of Jay Cutler’s hands as much as possible. He’s attempted only four passes. If Carolina can get a lead and force the Bears to throw, Chicago’s protection issues could be exposed in the second half.
  • Things aren’t going as smoothly as you might have expected for the Saints in Jacksonville. They are leading 14-10, but this game is much closer than it should be.
  • New Orleans hasn’t been able to force many mistakes by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He’s thrown for 165 yards and a touchdown, and hasn’t been pressured all that much.
  • Drew Brees made an uncharacteristic mistake by throwing an interception near the end of the first half. That led to a Jacksonville field goal.
  • Surprisingly, the Jaguars have come out throwing and haven’t really gotten Maurice Jones-Drew involved in the running game.
  • I'll be back with wrap-ups on both games soon after they end.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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