Cam Newton's supporting cast must step up for Panthers to overcome Saints

08 January, 2018, 03:45 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Playoff Road Takes Carolina Back to NOLA

Brandon Coleman hauled in 4-of-5 targets for 44 yards in the Saints' Wild Card win over the Panthers.

Conventional NFL wisdom states that it is hard for one team to beat another three times during the course of one season, but that notion fails to hold up when looking at the actual numbers.

FAMILIAL INSPIRATION: Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose 72 percent completion rate this season was an NFL record, enters his first playoff game in four years just days after traveling to Texas for the funeral of his 92-year-old grandfather, Ray Akins, a World War II veteran and long-time high school football coach. Kamara had 1,554 yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage along with 347 kick return yards and one return score on 11 tries.

Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess will have his hands full with rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who missed the two regular-season games with Carolina.

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The Panthers struggled in both games with the Saints, giving up a season worst 400 yards of offense to New Orleans in their last meeting.

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.

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.

Bortles, who was 6 of 15 for 33 yards in the first half, also was Jacksonville's leading rusher with three carries for 35 yards. They took over at their 47 with 40 seconds remaining and got into field-goal range on Blake Bortles' scrambles of 20 and 12 yards.

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In Carolina, Christian McCaffrey has also grown with every game after a slow start to the season. He exceeded 120 receiving yards in both games in 2015. We're going to get the job done.

Goodell was in Jacksonville for Sunday's AFC wild-card game between the Jaguars and Buffalo Bills after being in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

"It's going to be a change, but I don't want to think about that yet", Schug said. If Newton has to pass the ball 30 or more times, that favors New Orleans.

"You're talking about one of the better tight ends in the game and so not having him is significant and having him (in the previous games) is huge", Saints coach Sean Payton said. The Panthers' 2017 campaign features an impressive victory over NFC favorites Minnesota, as well as a narrow loss to the top-seeded Eagles, and the team would bring something more than a puncher's chance to either rematch.

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