Panthers at Saints - Playbook for the NFC Wild Card round

Panthers at Saints - Playbook for the NFC Wild Card round

Panthers at Saints - Playbook for the NFC Wild Card round

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.

DIVISIONAL grudge matches bring something extra to a play-off game and that's exactly what there is at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Sunday night.

However, when it comes to matchups against Carolina, Thomas is a large target on quarterback Drew Brees' radar. The biggest difference for the Saints was rookie running back Alvin Kamara.

CAM ON THE RUN: The Panthers have been better when quarterback Cam Newton runs the ball. Kamara has averaged 8.8 yards on 19 touches in the two games vs. the Panthers, with a total of three touchdowns.

The 2017-18 regular season saw the Saints pick up a couple wins over the Panthers.

It was Week 3 in Carolina; the Saints were 0-2 and just starting a nine-day road trip to Charlotte and London with their season already on the line.

Lattimore and fellow Saints defenders not only have to address their recent back-sliding as a unit, but also for the presence of star Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, who didn't play in either of these teams' previous two meetings this season. The Vikings handled New Orleans 29-19 in Week 1, but both teams look different since that November 11 matchup.

Included in that string was a second beating of the Panthers, 31-21 in New Orleans on December 13.

"I think this team is at its best when doubt is overwhelming against them", Shepard said on the Panthers website.

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"Him and Cam have timing together, chemistry", Saints safety Vonn Bell said. "Things they did against us that worked, they're going to try to come back and do again".

In Carolina, Christian McCaffrey has also grown with every game after a slow start to the season. But at the same time, they may be doing some different things that we have to get ready for to go out and stop.

He can't play like he did in a shocking 17-3 loss at Chicago in Week 7, when he got sacked five times, posted a 54.9 QB rating, provided a helping hand in two Bears defensive TDs and looked more and more disinterested with each squandered possession.

Stewart sat out last week's 22-10 loss to Atlanta with back soreness.

"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.

"We need to compile good series on top of good series", Panthers left guard Andrew Norwell told USA TODAY Sports.

Payton, who is 6-4 in the playoffs as Saints coach, is trying to maintain a fresh approach as well.

Saints: DE Trey Henderson (ankle), OL Terron Armstead (thigh) are QUESTIONABLE.

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