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Playoff Road Takes Carolina Back to NOLA
08 January 2018, 03:41 | Nina Mathis
Playoff Road Takes Carolina Back to NOLA
Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 there have been 20 instances in which a team that went 2-0 in the regular season against an opponent went on to face that opponent in the postseason. The Saints can extend that winning streak to six with a win this Sunday over the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers also converted on third-and-8 with a pass over the middle to Brenton Bersin before the drive stalled on the New Orleans 21-yard line.
Both Brees and Newton have been to the Super Bowl before and are two of the best quarterbacks in the league, but this season the other elements to their team have come together. It lost to Atlanta, 27-20, on December 28, 1991, in the dome after splitting with the Falcons during the regular season. Not true. It is more hard the other way around, historically speaking.
Beyond that, however, the Saints coach asserts that teams evolve over the course of a season as they develop chemistry and adjust to roster or positional changes brought on by injuries.
The Saints walked away with a 34-13 win that is now viewed as the turning point in their 11-5 season.
"You've kind of seen what they're basically going to run", defensive end Brian Robison said. 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. "But the beauty of this is we get another shot, and this time it really means something".
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That's right - it's possible for the Vikings to defeat the Saints and Falcons en route to Super Bowl LII, payback from two of the more crushing losses in franchise history - 2010 to the Saints and the NFC Championship game loss to Atlanta in 1999.
Stewart sat out last week's 22-10 loss to Atlanta with back soreness.
Newton missed a play, the Panthers punted, and then Newton returned on the team's next possession. He played for Carolina in 2013 and in 2015 and '16. "I feel like guys have been around and know how to approach this thing".
He often takes on as much as he can, but it's a delicate balance, and he'll nearly surely need more from his supporting cast to beat the Saints in the Superdome. They did beat them twice handily. Case in point was a Week 4 victory in New England, when he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 44 yards and a score.
For all of his considerable success, it's an enigma of Rivera's teams that they always seem unfinished in the same predictable ways. "Do it very well, execute to perfection and make the plays when you have the opportunity". Frequently undernourished at the offensive skill positions, the Panthers have typically placed an undue burden on Newton's broad shoulders, never more so than this year, when the quarterback again led the team in rushing with 754 yards, in addition to passing for 3,300 more. The Saints haven't lost a playoff game in the Superdome since 1992. "We love it", PSL owner Peggy Schug said. "You pay attention to the personnel and the thing that you didn't do well in the early two games".
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