cam newton carolina panthers The New Orleans Saints (11-5) take on the Carolina Panthers (11-5) for the third time this season as these division rivals square off in New Orleans in the final Wild Card game of the weekend

The Saints have won the previous two games this season but now the loser will head home to start the offseason while the winner moves on to the Divisional Round. But if the NFL has proven something throughout the years is that it’s never easy to beat the same team three times in one season.

The Panthers lost by double digits last time they were in New Orleans this season and enter this contest with a 1-3 mark in the last four games against the Saints.

Carolina has never played New Orleans in the postseason before, but they have met 46 times in the regular season with the Panthers holding a slight 24-22 advantage.

If the previous two games against the Saints were difficult for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, this one certainly won’t get any easier as Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore is finally ready to play.

Lattimore, who is expected to spend a good portion of the game guarding Carolina’s wide receiver David Funchess, missed the previous two games against the Panthers. He will provide a big boost to the Saints secondary as he allows a 45.3 pass rating in coverage this season, which ranks 3rd among NFL cornerbacks.

The Panthers will also have a player on the field that missed the first two matches between these two teams. That player is tight end Greg Olsen, who was out with a broken foot and is a big part of the Panthers offensive arsenal as he averages 92 yards per game in the last five games against the Saints.

The Panthers defense is led by Luke Kuechly, one of the best linebackers in the game, who can recognize formations and diagnose some of the Saints plays that are coming and effectively communicate them to the rest of the team.

Kuechly has only missed one tackle on run plays this season and will be vital to stop, or at least try to contain, the Saints explosive running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, who have combined this season for over 1,800 rushing yards this season.

But to win this game the Panthers will have to find a way to use their pass pressure to get to Saints quarterback Drew Brees. They need to be physical from the start to knock him down, getting him out of the pocket to make him uncomfortable and rattle him to prevent him from getting in sync with his receivers.





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