Saints' win over Carolina 31-26; will face the Vikings

Saints' win over Carolina 31-26; will face the Vikings

Payton pointed out that the Panthers not only defeated two of the top teams in the National Football League this season - New England and Minnesota - but beat the Patriots on the road.

For the first time in the history of the New Orleans Saints, they play a team in the playoffs that they have already beaten twice in a season.

Carolina was the last team to beat the Vikings, on a day where the Vikings matched their season high with three turnovers and allowed Jonathan Stewart to become the only running back to gain 100 yards in a game against them this season.

Saints coach Sean Payton takes a small measure of comfort in New Orleans' regular-season sweep of Carolina. Let's take a look.

If you're looking for a Saints-Panthers live stream, you can find it at Fox Sports Go.

Drew Brees may be the Saints' quarterback, but this is not his typical Saints team.

Newton drove Carolina to a first down at the Saints 21, but the game ended with a fourth-down sack by safety Vonn Bell.

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The mistakes Carolina made on the all-too-familiar Ginn's play were avoidable, and ones that defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has been warning, preaching and coaching against since the receiver had a free release on a 40-yard touchdown in Week 3. Olsen got the payoff with a 14-yard slant, easily beating safety Rafael Bush to the inside, and Carolina had cut the deficit to 24-19 with 12:47 left.

CAM ON THE RUN: The Panthers have been better when quarterback Cam Newton runs the ball.

The referees ordered Newton into the sideline tent to be evaluated for a concussion, but a few minutes later, he bounced out with ice on his forehead and looked ready to return.

He can't misfire on his first nine passes, throw three picks and post a career-low 31.5 QB rating as he did in a 22-10 loss in Week 17 at Atlanta, in part preventing the Panthers from overtaking the Saints and winning the NFC South. Carolina is best when they can keep the offense on the field with Newton opening things up with his legs. The Vikings handled New Orleans 29-19 in Week 1, but both teams look different since that November 11 matchup.

The Panthers come into this weekend's game winners of three of their last four games. He just needs help. For Carolina to win, it will need a huge performance from Newton.

But the Panthers will get their own boost. Newton will be outstanding, he just won't receive enough help from his defense as Brees will again have another strong performance. Ingram rushes for at least 90 yards and gets into the end zone as the Saints pull out a close win to move into the next round.

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