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Saints season-long dominance of Panthers continues in 31-26 wildcard win

08 January, 2018, 03:41 | Author: Lamar Ellis
  • Panthers vs. Saints 2018 odds: NFC South playoff clash has New Orleans as the favorite

New Orleans went 11-5 this year to win the NFC South for the first time since 2011 and stop a streak of three consecutive 7-9 seasons.

The Saints actually left the door open for Carolina to win the NFC North when they lost 31-24 on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday but managed to hold on for the division title when Carolina was defeated by Atlanta. New Orleans took the crown will host the Panthers for the second time this year in the Big Easy, Sunday at 4:40 p.m.

However, when it comes to matchups against Carolina, Thomas is a large target on quarterback Drew Brees' radar.

The Pro Bowl running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara helped the Saints rush for 149 and 148 yards in two games against Carolina, the two highest rushing totals allowed by Carolina this season.

That had the New Orleans head coach feeling pretty good about hisself after the game. While still possessing a lethal passing game, the new-look Saints can take the air out of the ball just as easily, dominating time of possession and wearing teams out.

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. The Carolina Panthers are looking for another shot at the championship since losing it to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, while the New Orleans Saints haven't been to the big dance since Super Bowl 34 in 2009. The Panthers also converted on third-and-8 with a pass over the middle to Brenton Bersin before the drive stalled on the New Orleans 21-yard line.

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Having said that, should the Panthers somehow steal one here, they immediately become a team no opponent will want to see going forward.

"Him and Cam have timing together, chemistry", Saints safety Vonn Bell said.

"It just kind of let everybody know, 'Hey, we're not a bad team, we're not a bad defense".

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who'd been playing through a right ankle sprain, said he'd told coach Mike Zimmer he'd do whatever he needed to do to get through the Vikings' final three regular season games, knowing a bye would await the Vikings if they won those games. First-round draft choice cornerback Marshon Lattimore missed both Carolina games with injuries.

The NFL playoffs continue Sunday with a doubleheader starting in Jacksonville, Florida, where the Jaguars and Buffalo Bills ended lengthy post-season droughts to make a wild-card game. "You look at what they've been doing over the last four or five weeks".

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

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