What they are saying
Saints Coach Joe Vitt, when asked if his team were going to the playoffs-
“Yeah, again, if. If my aunt had a beard she’d be my uncle. I am not going to sit here and deal with hypothetical questions. What we have a chance to do is play a divisional opponent this week at home and get better this week. Then we’ll let all of the pundits answer the hypothetical questions.”
Joe Vitt on the play of Carolina
“I think they’re going to come in here and play as hard as they can for as long as they can as smart as they can. I think it’s a football team that’s prideful. I think Ron Rivera is a prideful head coach, (he) was a prideful player in our league. I Sean McDermott is going to have the defense ready to play. The offense is being run through an athletic quarterback (Cam Newton) that can make plays with his arm and his legs. We know about their running backs, it’s an explosive ground game. They’re going to come here to win the game.”
Panthers Wide Receiver Brandon LaFell on his improved play
“I feel I can keep improving and getting better. I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years and I hear it a lot after the game from other DBs, so I have to keep doing what I’m doing, learn as much as I can from Smitty (Steve Smith) while he’s here and keep getting better.”
Carolina is playing like many thought they would for most of the season as well is New Orleans. The Panthers have won three straight games, and four of five, and they are looking to end the season on a high note with a win on the road against the Saints.
The Panthers have a very good defense that has allowed just 33 points in the last three games including just 13 points in their last two wins. Carolina is doing a lot of things they have done in the past when they win games and it starts with rushing the football.
Carolina is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, with an average of 121 yards. The Panthers’ pass defense has been stout for much of the season as they are 8th in the league. In last week’s 17-6 win over Oakland, QB Cam Newton had 230 of the 270 yards of total offense that the Panthers gained against the Raiders.
The Saints can finish the season on a three-game win streak and post a 4-2 mark in NFC South play. From what you hear from coaches and players, it’s very important to finish the season with a win to carry some momentum into the off season.
With that said, this season has been a major disappointment for the Saints and their fans. The Black and Gold were favored to win 12 games this season and make the playoffs. That won’t happen, although the speculation over the future of Coach Sean Payton’s return is finally behind us.
Carolina Panthers (6-9) @ New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Sunday December 30, 2012 Noon Kickoff Mercedes Benz Superdome
Last week’s Results: Carolina beat Oakland 17-6 and New Orleans beat Dallas 34-31 in overtime