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NFL Carolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints

Saints vs. Panthers NFL Week 17 Preview

Drew Brees and Cam Newton

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints will end their season at home against their divisional rival the Carolina Panthers. The Saints lost to the Panthers back in week two and are now looking to settle the score. The Panthers are 6-9 on the season while the Saints are 7-8 and both teams are not where they would have liked to be at this point in the season.

The Saints are looking to end the season at .500 while the Panthers would like to sweep the season series from the Saints and finish above them in the NFC south. When it is all said and done this game can be looked at as a meaningless game because it has no playoff implications whatsoever. Both teams will be playing for pride and bragging rights as they look to end the season with a win.

This game should still be competitive because it does feature two divisional rivals and I could see this being a head-to-head matchup at the quarterback position. Cam Newton literally does it all for the Panthers on offense and he will look to carry the team to victory. Drew Brees on the other hand loves to spread it out in the passing game and you can be sure he will get everyone involved. This game could very turn into a shootout as both teams will light up the scoreboard.

Saints X Factor: For the final game of the season I think the Saints x factor will be quarterback Drew Brees. Brees is the undisputed leader of the Saints and his leadership will be huge in the season finale. Brees has been on a tear as of late as he has thrown seven touchdowns with no interceptions over the past two games. I will look for Brees to continue his hot streak as the Saints look to end the season with a victory. Brees will have a big game against his divisional rivals and the Saints could run away with this one.

Panthers X Factor: The Panthers x factor for this week will be dynamic quarterback Cam Newton. “Super Cam” does everything for the Panthers offensively as he leads the team in passing yards, passing touchdowns, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. Newton will have to have a big day for the Panthers to stand a chance in this game. I know the Panthers won the first matchup against the Saints but the two teams are a lot different than they were back in week two. Newton will have to have a big day in the air and on the ground and he has the ability to get it done.

How the Saints can win this game: The Saints will win this game by thrashing the Panthers with their dynamic offense. Running back Mark Ingram should get things going on the ground and pave the way for Brees and his great receiving corps to finish off the Panthers. Brees should look for Marques Colston early and often and I would expect the snubbed Pro-Bowl duo to tear up the Panthers’ secondary. To put it simple, the Saints just need to get the ball in Brees’ hand and with the way he has been playing he will take care of the rest and the Saints will finish the season at 8-8.

How the Panthers can win this game: The Panthers will win this game if Newton can pass for over 250 yards and rush for over 100 yards. That is a lot to ask out of a young quarterback, but Newton is talented enough to get it done. Newton will need to get the ball to his star receiver, Steve Smith and if he can do that and rush for plenty of yards the Panthers will have a chance. Furthermore, Newton needs to limit his turnovers and keep the Saints shaky secondary honest. If Newton and the Panthers can do all of those things then they will win this game.

Final Prediction: With this being the season finale I would expect to see both teams put up a good effort. This game will be a high scoring affair but I think the Saints will come out victorious. The Saints have too much firepower and the Panthers’ defense will not be able to contain them. I predict Brees will throw at least three touchdowns as the Saints will rout the Panthers. Saints win 41-21.

Alejandro Aviles is the Featured Writer for the New Orleans Saints at Rant Sports @aaviles312