NFL Wild Card Playoffs

LOVERRO: Not exactly a showcase weekend for the NFL

LOVERRO: Not exactly a showcase weekend for the NFL

Newton was evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-26 NFC wild-card game loss to the New Orleans Saints, but cleared to return. If you key on stopping running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, then you become more susceptible to a player like Ginn taking the top off the defense.

The late game between the Panthers and the Saints is the third meeting between the two teams.

Included in that string was a second beating of the Panthers, 31-21 in New Orleans on December 13. While still possessing a lethal passing game, the new-look Saints can take the air out of the ball just as easily, dominating time of possession and wearing teams out.

Lost in how poorly the Panthers offense played at Atlanta was the absence of Jonathan Stewart, who sat out with back tightness.

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. The Saints, however, have handled the Panthers twice already this year, and their renovated defense seems custom made to give Newton fits. But Newton, Carolina's leading rusher this season, didn't run much in two losses to New Orleans, gaining 67 yards on nine carries.

If Carolina quarterback Cam Newton doesn't don his cape and play like a superhero in Sunday's NFC wildcard game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the Black and Gold likely will complete the rare trifecta and advance to the divisional round. It's also imperative for Carolina to get pressure on Brees.

Wintry weather expected late Sunday
Precipitation Sunday evening, says NWS, "may begin as a wintry mix of sleet and snow, mainly east of I-65". Any ice accumulations are expected to be relatively light, averaging less than a tenth of an inch.

Meanwhile, Saints coach Sean Payton will be trying to change or disguise most everything his offense has done against the Panthers, which may be hard as those old plays accounted for 400 yards in the 31-21 win and 362 yards in the 34-13 victory. "I feel like guys have been around and know how to approach this thing".

Expect the Saints to apply plenty of pressure on Newton.

But the Panthers will get their own boost.

New Orleans Saints 2018 looks more Super Bowlish, than current crop, although rookie classes for Loomis, Payton, for past two years have been superb to make it this season-Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints.

But before looking too far ahead, first they have to get past each other.

But the problem for New Orleans is possible overconfidence, while human nature says Carolina will be motivated. For example, the Tennessee Titans allowed 59.7 yards per game to tight ends this season, which ranked seventh-worst in the NFL per Football Outsiders.

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