Newton Leads Panthers Against Powerhouse saints
The New Orleans Saints will look to continue their quest for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs when they travel to Bank of Stadium for a match-up with the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
The Saints (11-2) beat Panthers three times last season, including the playoffs. After the game, Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan reportedly sent quarterback Cam Newton a bottle of wine and a broom to commemorate the season sweep.
"I'm ready to return to sender," Newton told NFL.com on Thursday. "On the field we have a respectful dislike for each other. Off the field it's a different story."
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Carolina's struggles have been well documented. The team has dropped five straight games after starting the season 6-2. The Panthers (6-7) have never had back-to-back winning seasons since joining NFL in 1995. The Panthers are 5-1 at home this year.
Newton needs seven total touchdowns to pass Dan Marino (246) for second most in NFL through first eight seasons.
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As speculation grows about Newton's heath, one thing is clear, running back Christian McCaffrey has emerged as a viable threat for an offense that has struggled to produce in clutch situations this season.
McCaffrey has 12 touchdowns in the last seven games. He needs just 17 receptions to surpass Matt Forte’s NFL single-season record for most receptions (102) by running back. He also needs 74 yards rushing for first 1,000-yard season.
Standing in Carolina's way, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has completed 76.7 percent of passes for 2,714 yards with 21 touchdowns and four INTs in past 10 games vs. NFC South foes.
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Brees has 46 career TDs and 20 INTs vs. Panthers, including playoffs.
“Listen, they’re a prideful group,” said Brees. “They’re well-coached and their backs are against the wall, so we’re going to get their best performance.”
Brees has averaged 302.4 yards passing with 13 TDs and four INTs in past seven games vs. Carolina.
A 48-40 opening-week loss to the Buccaneers and 43-37 overtime win vs. the Falcons had New Orleans ranked last in points allowed per game through the season’s first few weeks. Now, the Saints are on a five-game run of allowing 17 or fewer points, the latest being a 28-14 victory at Tampa Bay last Sunday.
Photo Credit: Crescent City Sports
“You want to throughout the season perfect your process and, at this point, your process should be pretty much perfected,” said linebacker Demario Davis.