Vikings to face Brees, Saints in playoffs

Vikings to face Brees, Saints in playoffs

Vikings to face Brees, Saints in playoffs

As the Saints prepare to host the Panthers on Sunday in the wild card-round of the postseason, they know Olsen might not be the same player he's been in the past, they're still wary of his potential.

The Vikings had faced all three of their potential divisional round opponents during the regular season, beating the Saints 29-19 in Week 1 and topping the Rams 24-7 in Week 11 before losing 31-24 to the Panthers on December 10. Both rushed for more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage with Kamara perhaps the most electric of the two.

Will the Saints defeat the Panthers for the third time this season or will it be Ron Rivera's club who advances to the next round? Frequently undernourished at the offensive skill positions, the Panthers have typically placed an undue burden on Newton's broad shoulders, never more so than this year, when the quarterback again led the team in rushing with 754 yards, in addition to passing for 3,300 more.

In the two meetings between these teams this year New Orleans won 34-13 and 31-21. Except Newton, whose scrambles and zone-read plays will keep drives alive and allow the Panthers to stay close for awhile. Kamara added to his impressive resume this week when ESPN Stats & Information revealed that his 7.7 yards per touch is the highest single-season average in National Football League history among players with at least 200 offensive touches.

Three of those possessions ended successful Graham Gano field goals, and one resulted in a Gano attempt that sailed wide of the uprights from 25 yards. Olsen could prove to be the X-factor in the game, providing Newton a big target over the middle of the field he lacked in the previous matchups.

The Jaguars advanced to face the second-seeded Steelers on January 14 in Pittsburgh.

"I've said before, I thought that two-game road stretch we took was important at Carolina and at London", Payton said.

Bortles, who was 6 of 15 for 33 yards in the first half, also was Jacksonville's leading rusher with three carries for 35 yards.

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McCaffrey's influence has been in the passing game and he leads the team with 80 receptions, second in yards on 651.

"We start this time of year, and everyone is starting from scratch", he said.

"It's going to be a change, but I don't want to think about that yet", Schug said.

Payton, who is 6-4 in the playoffs as Saints coach, is trying to maintain a fresh approach as well. The Bills earned their first playoff berth since 1999.

Not all Saints will be so familiar with the Panthers.

If Jacksonville wins, it will play at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh next weekend.

The Panthers-Saints victor will play at Minnesota next week.

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