I'm here in New Orleans with a few pregame notes as we await kickoff of the Panthers and Saints at 1 p.m. Eastern (which is noon in New Orleans and doubles as the time a lot of folks get up around here after a Saturday night):
1) It's gorgeous in New Orleans today. Sunny and breezy. Too bad the Superdome doesn't have a retractable roof.
2) The Saints' running backs are terribly banged up -- reminds me a little of the year that the Panthers got all the way down to fifth- or sixth-string tailback Nick Goings on the depth chart. It's going to be a steady diet of Drew Brees today for the Saints -- Brees has hit Carolina for 330-plus passing yards the last two times he's played them. But Carolina is fortunate to be catching the Saints on a week when Reggie Bush is out.
3) Speaking of Brees, I took a walk through downtown New Orleans this morning on a pilgrimage to Cafe du Monde. ("The coffee is strong at the Cafe du Monde// The doughnuts are too hot to touch// But just like a fool// When those sweet goodies cool// -- who knows who I'm quoting here?).
Anyway, I counted the first 40 Saints jerseys I saw on folks, and it was quite a testament to Brees' incredible popularity.
Results: Brees 38. Bobby Hebert 1. Pierre Thomas 1.
4) If you haven't read Joe Person's Q and A with Panthers GM Marty Hurney in today's paper and online, it's definitely worth seeing. And here's my pregame column on Brandon LaFell, the former LSU star who counts today's game as a home game for him.
5) I'll be blogging during and after the game today on CharlotteObserver.com, so stay connected.