The Saints went 2-0 against the Panthers this season. They beat them 34-13 in Carolina in Week 3 and 31-21 in New Orleans in Week 13. Thus, you’d expect the Saints to be supremely confident heading into their Wild Card showdown with Carolina on Sunday.
Well, they’re confident, but they’re also not taking anything for granted.
It’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.
“It’s all or nothing, man. Win or go home,” Saints cornerback Ken Crawley said on Reiter Than You. “These guys are going to bring their best foot forward. Cam has had a great long stretch of the season, just these last couple games running the ball, taking matters into their own hands. You got (Devin) Funchess. These guys are going to come out to play. Funchess is a big receiver. We got to play them tough. We got to try to dominate each play and take every play once at a time and go out there and play our game.”
For New Orleans, the key will be making Carolina – and Cam Newton – one-dimensional. Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey combined for 1,100+ rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns this season, but Newton gives the offense another dimension. He rushed for a team-high 754 yards and six touchdowns, helping Carolina win seven of its last nine games.
“With them, our main goal with this team is to stop the run,” Crawley said. “He’s a great runner. He runs the ball when they call his number, and he does a great job. When the pocket collapses, he steps up and does a great job at it. So we got to look out for that and just try to stop him and minimize (explosive plays) over the top. We got to play our game. Don’t get (too) hyped in this game. Just be ourselves. Be the team that we’ve been.”
Newton, of course, can also beat teams from the pocket. He threw for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, though he did have 16 interceptions.
“He can kill you with his arm, too,” Crawley said. “He’s got a strong arm. But a lot of quarterbacks, they don’t want to sit back there and throw it all day. We (need) to make them one-dimensional. That’s what we’re trying to do. We try to do it to a lot of teams.”
Kickoff is at 4:40 p.m. ET.