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Panthers at Saints - Playbook for the NFC Wild Card round

Panthers at Saints - Playbook for the NFC Wild Card round

The Vikings had faced all three of their potential divisional round opponents during the regular season, beating the Saints 29-19 in Week 1 and topping the Rams 24-7 in Week 11 before losing 31-24 to the Panthers on December 10.

And because the universe has a cruel sense of humor, Clay dropped a would-be third-down touchdown pass in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-26 loss in the Superdome, while two plays later, the vertical threat the Panthers let walk last spring scored an 80-yard touchdown pass that completely shifted the momentum in the Saints' favor.

Saints coach Sean Payton takes a small measure of comfort in New Orleans' regular-season sweep of Carolina. But at the same time, they may be doing some different things that we have to get ready for to go out and stop.

Prior to Ginn's touchdown, Carolina's defense had quarterback Drew Brees looking a little discombobulated, and had held the Saints to minus-9 yards of offense on its first two drives of the game.

While Saints All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan has done well containing the 6-foot-5, 245-pound, fleet-footed Newton in previous meetings, he said he doesn't exactly enjoy the prospect of having to do so again.

He can't play like he did in a 34-13 loss to the visiting, then-winless Saints in Week 3, when he threw three interceptions, got sacked four times, posted a 43.8 QB rating and didn't look fully healthy from off-season shoulder surgery. 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.

"Both teams ended the season 11-5, but while Carolina's Cam Newton - at 28 years old - still has plenty of years ahead of him, time might be running out on New Orleans" Drew Brees. Luke Kuechly and the Panthers linebacking corps will face a tall task in slowing down the Saints dynamic rushers. At the same time, Carolina could have a hard time convincing itself it can win because it has lost twice, and neither was close. Had the Vikings had to play this weekend, Rudolph said, "I can't tell you what Plan B would have been". "I know the team's ins and outs". They didn't look good in last week's 22-10 loss at Atlanta with the division on the line. "You pay attention to the personnel and the thing that you didn't do well in the early two games". The Saints rebounded with a 31-21 win at home over - surprise! - the Carolina Panthers. Turner has missed three games with a concussion.


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