New Orleans Saints: 6 “X-Factors” That Can Help Beat the Panthers

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Dec 6, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) carries the ball as New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (95) and strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) tackle in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Panthers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

In just a little over 36 hours from now, the New Orleans Saints come off of their bye week at home against their rugged rival, the Carolina Panthers; this Sunday afternoon inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints /Panthers rivalry is a young but underrated one, starting in 1995 with the Panthers holding a 23-19 advantage in victories.

This rivalry took a noticeably heated turn though in 2013; and the two games played against each other from that point on are now almost undoubtedly the most physical on both teams’ respective schedules.

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Sean Payton and Drew Brees have mostly dominated NFC South rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay, but this has not been the case with Carolina. The Saints have lost 8 of their last 10 against the Panthers, including each of the last 3.

The defending NFC champion Panthers have not opened the season well, having won only one of their first five games.

With their divisional rivals struggling and with the Saints themselves at only 1-3, this is definitely a MUST WIN for both teams .

This is very close to an “elimination” game, with the loser having an extremely slim chance for playoff contention this season — and the Saints would like nothing better than to put the proverbial “foot on the throat” of their divisional foes.

There are many ways that this game could mark the turning point in a young squad’s season, and many factors that should work in the Saints favor.

Tonight, we’re taking a look at just a few of those factors — starting with this one…..