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NFC South rivals seeking a Division Crown 66

 (Photo: David T. Foster III, Charlotte Observer)

(Photo: David T. Foster III, Charlotte Observer)

Control of first place in the NFC South will be up for grabs this weekend, as quarterback  Drew Brees will lead the New Orleans Saints (10-4)  into Charlotte for a key rematch with the Carolina Panthers (10-4).

In their previous meeting two weeks prior, the Cats stumbled down in the big easy, surrendering a season worst 31 points to the number seven  ranked Saints defense.  Carolina had their eight game winning streak and their momentum snapped along with it.  Their quarterback, Cam Newton, was sacked five times, while  failing to get the Panther offense into any sort of  rhythm.  They  hope to turn the tides this week in what is arguably the most important game of the  Panthers 2013 season. Fortunately for them,  they will be hosting the Saints. With their recent struggles on the road, Carolina will certainly be looking to take advantage. Wide receiver Steve Smith is  nursing a dislocated left middle finger, but is expected to play on Sunday.  With Smith not at full health, look for Newton to rely on  his second and third  favorite  targets, Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn through the air. DeAngelo Williams should be  receiving  more carries in the run game, with fellow running back Jonathan Stewart ruled out of Sunday’s game with a sore  knee.

On the other side of the ball, the Saints find themselves  in desperate need of a  win and a season sweep of the Panthers to assure themselves a home game in January. After last week’s surprising debacle in St. Louis, it brings into question the Saints ability to withstand the pressure of winning on the road. Their offensive line was  absolutely manhandled by the Rams front seven.  Brees was pressured and sacked all day long, forcing  him into committing  several turnovers. Undoubtedly, this was one of his worst performances of his career. The Saints will need a quick start  to squash any confidence the Panthers have playing with home field advantage.  It will be a ‘winner take all week sixteen’ showdown, as the two clubs square off at Bank Of America Stadium.

NFC  powers will collide on Sunday, as Cam Newton and Drew Brees  lead their teams and continue to push for the playoffs. What’s at stake?  An NFC South Division title and most likely a first round Bye.

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Sports-Kings Down and Distance Contributor Stephn Baldetti


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