The Panthers are a very good team, having also compiled an 11-5 record, but they are the underdogs in Sunday's clash for a reason. "It's hard to beat a team twice in one season, but at the end of the day, you have to take that team on, on that current week, and just kind of use past history with them as a guideline, but not necessarily what they're going to do on that Sunday". "It's not like, "Oh, the playoffs are here, it's time to ramp it up or things are a little more important.' It's always important for me".
New Orleans (11-5) won the NFC South championship this season, with Carolina (11-5) a wild-card in the same division.
This was the longest play the Panthers had allowed all season long.
The Saints did well in this matchup in one game, but poorly in the other.
"We knew what we had in this locker room", receiver Ted Ginn Jr. told NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
"We've got a fire lit up under us to come out here and play the way we know we're capable of playing", defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said.
Drew Brees threw for 4,334 yards this season, the lowest total of any of his seasons with the Saints. If they do, it could help change the outcome of a third meeting between the two teams this season.
"We do some things with Greg that we didn't get a chance to do when he wasn't with us", Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Our details weren't exactly on point like they need to be that last game". "We love it", PSL owner Peggy Schug said.
Win or lose, it'll be a game that players won't ever forget.
"We didn't get up for that game, and that's on us".
If the Panthers hope to win, they must find a way to limit not only Kamara but the entire rushing attack orchestrated by coach Sean Payton and the Saints.
"We want to show that we're here in good times and bad times", Lyles said.
"It's insane how people sit there and don't want to give people chances or anything like that", coach Ron Rivera said on the team's website. And as they prepare to face a team that had to play this weekend, the Vikings will do so with the benefit of as much rest as they've had since their bye week in early November. The pressure starts up front with NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, end Cameron Jordan, who posted a career-high13 sacks.
"Being with my family, and with friends, and with guys that played for my grandfather, and just listening to their stories again, just reemphasizing to me what a great man he was, and what a wise man he was, and just a true American hero", Brees said.
Kicker Graham Gano has connected on 29 of his 30 field goals this season, with his only miss coming from 50 yards in the loss to the Detroit Lions on October 8. Carolina still lost 31-21, but the 2015 MVP feels he's a more effective player when not chained to the pocket.
"He plays with a lot of juice", Newton said.
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