Panthers let playoff chance slip away in New Orleans

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Panthers let playoff chance slip away in New Orleans

Coverage of this game airs on FOX beginning at 4:40 pm ET on Sunday from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Panthers were without tight end Greg Olsen in both their losses to the Saints, but will have him healthy for Sunday's playoff matchup.

Brees completed 23-of-32 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and looked like a former All-Pro and former Super Bowl winning quarterback, coming through big in the big moment. "And you're also talking about a team that (two years ago) was in the Super Bowl", Payton said. A large part of that was the improvement of the Saints running game with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The rookie caught five balls for 66 yards, while also rushing for 60 yards and two scores.

The Panthers final possession reached the 21-yard line, but an intentional grounding penalty and a sack ended the game and the Panthers' season.

"He's definitely going to do his thing, but we're going to go out there, we're going to execute and do our thing, too", Te'o said.

The Saints defense isn't at the same level as the Panthers, but they're much improved from the beginning of the season, going from last in the league to 17, and they're giving up just 20 points a contest now, that's tied with the Panthers for 10th in the NFL.

Newton's words seem to hold added meaning given his struggles in recent weeks, and it's worth wondering if the Panthers can win if he doesn't play better. Led by outstanding rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore and a nasty pass rush featuring Cameron Jordan, this version of the Saints has the capacity to make Newton one dimensional and force him to beat them with his arm.

"We take pride in being good at stopping the run", Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis said.

Maybe they play their best game of the year and win in the last seconds on a Graham Gano walk off.

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.

"From the midpoint of the season, when (Carolina) got on a roll, you can see the confidence grow with that team".

Their investment helped finance the stadium when it was built, so if the new Panthers owner moves the team out of Charlotte, they will lose those seat licenses.

"We have to go a better job of capitalizing on turnovers", Kalil said. "But our mentality is to win - we gonna come into this game and we expect to win". "I hope they understand how committed we are to the kind of energy and community that the Panthers build for us".

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