For the first time in the history of the New Orleans Saints, they play a team in the playoffs that they have already beaten twice in a season.
Brees completed 23-of-32 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and looked like a former All-Pro and former Super Bowl winning quarterback, coming through big in the big moment. 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.
Payton downplays the regular-season wins over Carolina now, reminding everyone that the playoffs are a single game elimination tournament, but the Saints have to be in the Panthers head, if only just a little bit. The Saints are a 7-point favorite, according to Vegas Insider.More news: Risky wind chills expected Saturday; warmer temps Sunday
Helped by the presence of tight end Greg Olsen - who did not play in the teams' previous two meetings - Newton marched Carolina into Saints territory more often than not. Luke Kuechly and the Panthers linebacking corps will face a tall task in slowing down the Saints dynamic rushers.
New Orleans dominated Carolina in two divisional games this season, taking down the Panthers by a combined score of 65-35. He is the midday host at Sports 1280 New Orleans, Midday Host Weekdays-Noon-2pm at Sports 1280 New Orleans/101.1 FM and Television Host at WLAE-TV. The Panthers were 1-1 in those games and are 2-1 all-time in conference championship games. Not only does establishing the run against the Saints open up the passing game for Newton, but it also keeps Brees on the sideline. 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.
Not only does Olsen provide quarterback Cam Newton with a top-tier target, but he's enjoyed success against the Saints in the past. "That's something we that we have not done a good job of this year".More news: Monster Hunter World Is Getting Another Beta Before Launch
"I've said before, I thought that two-game road stretch we took was important at Carolina and at London", Payton said. "He's going to play his game".
He has just 17 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown this season, and had only one reception in Carolina's loss to Atlanta last week. "But the beauty of this is we get another shot, and this time it really means something".
"We play at 4:40, so be in for the show". The Saints haven't lost a playoff game in the Superdome since 1992.More news: CDC digs for more clues in multistate E coli outbreak
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.