Mike Florio, from NBA dn ProFootballTalk.com, stopped by for his weekly visit to recap the first day of free agency, Steve Smith’s time in Carolina, the Panthers inactivity, Jairus Byrd and Aqib Talib’s new deals, Hakeem Nicks and the NFC South’s big day.
Six weeks ago, the New Orleans Saints suffered their worst loss of the season in a game where they were absolutely demolished by the Seattle Seahawks. Immediately afterward, head coach Sean Payton told his players to put the game behind them because they would get another shot. Payton was right as the Saints are meeting the Seahawks again, and there are four big things they need to do, in order to win.
The Carolina Panthers had to win the last game of the season to get the NFC South title and a first-round bye so it’s not like it was a time they could rest their players. Steve Smith had to sit out with an injury, and there were not a lot of other options for Cam Newton to rely on, but there need to be.
The Carolina Panthers started off the season with a 1-3 start, and were tied with the Atlanta Falcons for second place. It wasn’t a second place that was even close to the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, but the rest of the season proved to turn out completely different.
Drew Brees will be much more successful against the Eagles defense than back-up Kyle Orton was in the final game of the regular season. But, if the Eagles can knock Brees off his game, then the Saints could quickly run out of options to try and keep up wit the Eagles offense.
Cam Newton clinched his first division championship with a big win in his hometown.
Carolina’s blueprint for playoff success has been set: Let the sack-happy defense lead the way and hope dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton can add just enough offense.
The Carolina Panthers are faced with yet another critical game on Sunday when they head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. With a win, the Panthers will clinch the NFC South and a 1st round bye in the playoffs, while also guaranteeing the city a home playoff game for the first time in 5 years.
Both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers sit tied atop the NFC South at 10-4. One of them will emerge as the winner of the conference in two weeks. The question is, who will secure the division title?
In addition to bringing in a new kicker for Sunday’s pivotal NFC South clash with Carolina, the Saints will have a rookie who has yet to take a single offensive snap protecting Drew Brees’ blind side.