NFL Wild Card Preview: Panthers at Saints

Beth Cruz
January 8, 2018

The Saints swept the Panthers during the regular season with the last meeting coming during Week 13 in a 31-21 victory for New Orleans. The offense still functions nearly entirely on the boom-or-bust proposition of Cam Newton's bulldozer scrambling and scattershot arm, and the defense remains a disciplined and formidable unit with mainstay linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis thriving in a Swiss Army Knife capacity while ends Mario Addison and Julius Peppers chase down and torment quarterbacks. He could have easily been the goat had the Panthers taken advantage of his questionable decision, but in the end his defense prevailed, and the Saints are going on.

In game two at New Orleans, Kamara capped the very first drive on fourth-down with an impressive touchdown run. So he chose to whip out the broom in the locker room as his team celebrate the season sweep of their division rivals.

Two years later, the Panthers took down NY in the first round and Chicago in the divisional round, and Seattle pummeled Carolina in the 2005 NFC Championship game.

"I think this team is at its best when doubt is overwhelming against them", Shepard said on the Panthers website. Olsen could prove to be the X-factor in the game, providing Newton a big target over the middle of the field he lacked in the previous matchups.

From the wild-card round through Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, ESPN.com has the playoffs covered.


"We just know he's a passing threat", Bell added. The Saints relentlessly pressured Newton, sacking him four times. Thomas scored a touchdown in each of his games against Carolina this year, while Ginn scored on a 40-yard bomb from quarterback Drew Brees. Historically teams are (13-7) when it comes to sweeping the third game in the National Football League playoffs.

Should much change between these two teams? The Saints have benefitted from rookie running back Alvin Kamara, 22, and veteran Mark Ingram, 28, as the New Orleans running game is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. But at the same time, they may be doing some different things that we have to get ready for to go out and stop.

GETTING HEALTHIER: The Panthers expect to get two key players back on offense - running back Jonathan Stewart and guard Trai Turner.

New Orleans could get starting left tackle Terron Armstead back from a thigh injury that kept him out of last week's 31-24 loss at Tampa Bay.

After an intentional grounding moved the ball back to the 34 and required a 10-second runoff, and an incompletion intended for Funchess in the end zone and a sack by Von Bell essentially ended the game.

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