Metairie, La. -- A key factor for the Saints to get a win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday will be containing their star running back, Christian McCaffrey, who is putting-up career numbers this season. McCaffrey leads the NFL in rush yards with 1,059 on 199 carries, and is one of just three players in the league that's already surpassed the 1,000 yards rushing mark on the season.
"He's been their workhorse," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. "He's handled it well. He's got very good vision and balance. He's hard to tackle. He's got that open field speed too. He's taken a lot of runs the distance and he's having a tremendous season."
McCaffrey also leads the league averaging 105.9 yards per game and is tied with two other players (Aaron Jones and Dalvin Cook) with the most rushing touchdowns (11) in the NFL. McCaffrey's 11 touchdowns is more than double the number of touchdowns he had in his first two seasons combined (9).
"He's got good feet," Payton continued. "It starts with getting your numbers to the ball. If it's just one player or a player and a half who's late, it becomes more challenging. That's one of the keys in this game."
The other side of this is the Saints defense, which currently ranks third in the league in rushing defense, allowing just 85.3 yards per game. They haven't given-up a rushing touchdown since their week 5 match-up against Tampa Bay. They have 5-straight games without giving-up a rushing touchdown. In addition, the Saints defense has not had a single player rush for more than 83 yards against them this season. Here's a look at their opponent's leading rusher in each of their games:
Week 1 (Texans) Carlos Hyde, 83 yards
Week 2 (Rams) Todd Gurley II, 63 yards
Week 3 (Seahawks) Chris Carson, 52 yards
Week 4 (Cowboys) Ezekiel Elliott, 35 yards
Week 5 (Buccaneers) Ronald Jones II, 35 yards
Week 6 (Jaguars) Leonard Fournette, 72 yards
Week 7 (Bears) Tarik Cohen, 10 yards
Week 8 (Cardinals) Christian Kirk, 19 yards
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 (Falcons) Brian Hall, 61 yards
Week 11 (Buccaneers) Jameis Winston, 23 yards