Conventional NFL wisdom states that it is hard for one team to beat another three times during the course of one season, but that notion fails to hold up when looking at the actual numbers.
Wild Card weekend wraps up when the Saints host the Panthers Sunday, Jan. 7. Brees needs another strong performance from his running backs in order for the Saints to beat the Panthers for the third time this season. These two teams last faced off in Week 13 and New Orleans defeated the Panthers 31-21. If Newton has to pass the ball 30 or more times, that favors New Orleans. Let's take a look. The biggest key is for the Panthers to get the ground game going.
FAMILIAL INSPIRATION: Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose 72 percent completion rate this season was an NFL record, enters his first playoff game in four years just days after traveling to Texas for the funeral of his 92-year-old grandfather, Ray Akins, a World War II veteran and long-time high school football coach.
Expect the Saints to apply plenty of pressure on Newton.
4 seed Saints win will advance it to play at No. 2 seed Minnesota (13-3) next Sunday at 3:40 p.m. on FOX as No. 6 seed Atlanta (11-6) eliminated No. 3 seed Los Angeles Saturday night, 26-13, and will play at No. 1 seed Philadelphia (13-3) at 3:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC.
If Carolina quarterback Cam Newton doesn't don his cape and play like a superhero in Sunday's NFC wildcard game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the Black and Gold likely will complete the rare trifecta and advance to the divisional round. The Vikings handled New Orleans 29-19 in Week 1, but both teams look different since that November 11 matchup. Olsen got the payoff with a 14-yard slant, easily beating safety Rafael Bush to the inside, and Carolina had cut the deficit to 24-19 with 12:47 left.
Beyond that, however, the Saints coach asserts that teams evolve over the course of a season as they develop chemistry and adjust to roster or positional changes brought on by injuries. "We have to figure out what went well and improve on that and what went wrong and correct that". For Carolina to win, it will need a huge performance from Newton. "I know the team's ins and outs". He played out the rest of the game without missing any more plays. "You pay attention to the personnel and the thing that you didn't do well in the early two games".
A holding penalty on the Saints secondary gave Carolina a first down at the 21 with 46 seconds to play.
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