The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers will play each other for the third time this season when the two division rivals meet at the Superdome. The Saints won both meetings in the regular season, and rather easily, too, but defeating a team three times in no season is no easy task. Here are the three things to watch:
SAINTS GO RUNNING
Drew Brees may be the Saints’ quarterback, but this is not his typical Saints team. New Orleans is lead by a two-headed monster at running back between rookie standout Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Both rushed for more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage with Kamara perhaps the most electric of the two. Luke Kuechly and the Panthers linebacking corps will face a tall task in slowing down the Saints dynamic rushers.
CAM VS. CAM
Cam Newton did not play well in two losses to the Saints this season. He failed to throw for more than 183 yards and was sacked six times. Leading the pressure for New Orleans is defensive end Cameron Jordan. Jordan, who was named first team All-Pro this week, had one of those six sacks and was tied for fourth in the league with 13 sacks this season. While Newton can certainly create plays with his legs it will be much more difficult under the pressure of Jordan and the Saints defensive front.
GET OLSEN GOING
The Panthers were without tight end Greg Olsen in both their losses to the Saints, but will have him healthy for Sunday’s playoff matchup. 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. The Saints, though, did not have rookie corner Marshon Lattimore in those game, and he will be on the field along with their other impressive rookie, safety Marcus Williams, who will likely be tasked with guarding Olsen.
Panthers: WR Devin Funchess (shoulder), OL Matt Kalil (illness) and OL Trai Turner (concussion) are QUESTIONABLE.
Saints: DE Trey Henderson (ankle), OL Terron Armstead (thigh) are QUESTIONABLE.