Playing in front of their home fans, Carolina once again failed to send the crowd home happy. They fell to 0-5 at Bank of America Stadium and had only 195 total yards in an ugly 31-6 loss to the Saints. ... On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 49ers had perhaps their best game of the season. They scored a season-high 37 points, snapped an eight-game losing skid and won on a defensive touchdown in overtime to defeat the Cardinals, 37-31.
Though neither team is eliminated from postseason contention as you can see in the playoff picture, in reality both franchises are playing for pride more than for title considerations. San Francisco is trying to get a second straight win and show its one-game offensive outburst wasn't a fluke against Arizona. Carolina is attempting to snap a five-game losing skid and win its first game at home since last year.
Panthers RB DeShaun Foster vs. 49ers LB Patrick Willis. The key to Carolina's success over the past few years is actually quite simple -- get Foster going. When the former UCLA standout has 70 or more rushing yards, the Panthers are 16-1. However, he only has 70-plus yards on the ground in 17 of his 58 career games. He is coming off a game in which he ran for minus-5 yards on nine carries and his struggles have put added pressure on a passing game that is not producing with starter Jake Delhomme out for the season. For him to rebound with a strong game Sunday, he will have to do so against the potential Defensive Rookie of the Year, Patrick Willis. Willis saved the Niners last week against the Cardinals by tracking down Sean Morey and preventing a touchdown with this tackle in OT. Up again for GMC's Defensive Player of the Week honor, Willis makes it hard on opposing running backs with his ferocity and speed. As the stats indicate, if he can keep Foster under 70 yards, San Francisco's chances of winning increase greatly.