FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
MAKING SOME NOISE: The Panthers will have to deal with a Saints crowd that hasn’t been able to cheer on its team in a playoff home game for seven years. And the Superdome already has the reputation as one of the loudest stadiums in the league. Panthers practiced with simulated dome noise all week. FUMBLES AND PICS: History suggests the Carolina defence will need to set the tone for the visitors to leave with a victory. In the Panthers’ five losses this season, they had two turnovers. In their 11 wins they had 19. Still, the Panthers were minus-1 in the takeaway-giveaway category while the Saints were a plus-7. GETTING TO QB1: It should be easier to bring down the aging Drew Brees than the big and nimble footed Cam Newton. Especially when Julius Peppers and Mario Addison gives the Panthers were the only team in the NFC with two players who had more than 10 sacks, eating chipping in with 11 of the team’s 50. Saints Cameron Jordan, meanwhile, drools at the thought of hunting down QBs. He was New Orleans top sack man with 13. GROUNDING IT OUT: While the Saints have the dominating duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara carrying the ball out of the backfiled, the Panthers are no slouches in that department themselves. They ranked fourth in NFL rushing yards with an average of 131.4 per game. Newton led the Panthers with 754 rushing yards, which was 22nd most in the league. RETURNING ROOKIE: Back in the Saints secondary is Marshon Lattimore, who was rested last week but still became the first defensive back to win multiple NFL rookie of the month awards since the award began in 1996. Upon learning that stat, Lattimore tweeted: “Sheesh, I was born in 96 lol”
Saints sack leader Jordan Cameron (94) will be out to harass Cam Newton. Left, Luke Kuechly of Carolina must stop the New Orleans run game.