Panthers let playoff chance slip away in New Orleans

Jonathan Hernandez
January 8, 2018

However, with that said, two NFC South teams have never been pitted against each other three times in one season. They will need to win a third if they want to continue into the playoffs.

It means the Saints (11-5) play the Panthers (11-5) in the Superdome, where New Orleans hasn't lost a playoff game since 1992 and is 4-0 in the postseason under Payton. Fullback Zach line and running back Alvin Kamara each ran for short touchdowns, the latter set up by Michael Thomas 46-yard reception.

The Panthers struggled in both games with the Saints, giving up a season worst 400 yards of offense to New Orleans in their last meeting. As the Panthers prepare to visit their division rivals in New Orleans this weekend, Newton's ability to succeed in the passing game will be the contest's crucial factor.

Helped by the presence of tight end Greg Olsen - who did not play in the teams' previous two meetings - Newton marched Carolina into Saints territory more often than not.

Meanwhile, Saints coach Sean Payton will be trying to change or disguise most everything his offense has done against the Panthers, which may be hard as those old plays accounted for 400 yards in the 31-21 win and 362 yards in the 34-13 victory.

New Orleans dominated Carolina in two divisional games this season, taking down the Panthers by a combined score of 65-35. Will Carolina stop New Orleans dead in its tracks? The Panthers were 1-1 in those games and are 2-1 all-time in conference championship games. Not that Stewart would have saved the Panthers, but he would have allowed Mike Shula try to get the run game going, control time of possession and keep the defense fresh. Not only did they defeat the Panthers twice, they did it decisively both times.

Cam Newton rolled up to his weekly press conference, brow furrowed, and spoke of added focus.

"We've got a fire lit up under us to come out here and play the way we know we're capable of playing", defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said.

Olsen missed nine games with a foot injury this season.

"He's definitely going to do his thing, but we're going to go out there, we're going to execute and do our thing, too", Te'o said. "You look at what they've been doing over the last four or five weeks". They've got that part covered, by the looks of it.

Philadelphia players have played in 74 playoff games and Minnesota's 69, while the Los Angeles Rams are the least experienced NFC playoff team with 21.

Saints: DE Trey Henderson (ankle), OL Terron Armstead (thigh) are QUESTIONABLE.

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