Cam Newton's supporting cast must step up for Panthers to overcome Saints

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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.

The second round of the NFL Wild Card playoffs starts at 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, followed by the Carolina Panthers at the New Orleans Saints at 4:40 p.m. on FOX.

Carolina and New Orleans exchanged field goals in the third quarter - Graham Gano nailed his fourth of the game, from 29 yards out, and Wil Lutz made a career-high-tying 57-yarder - to keep the Saints in front, 24-12. These two teams last faced off in Week 13 and New Orleans defeated the Panthers 31-21.

Newton missed a play, the Panthers punted, and then Newton returned on the team's next possession. Let's take a look.

Moving the football down the field was not a problem for the Panthers Sunday, at least not until they got near the red zone. Case in point was a Week 4 victory in New England, when he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 44 yards and a score.

Expect the Saints to apply plenty of pressure on Newton.

Brian Robison is the only current player remaining on the Vikings roster who endured that tragic loss, but there are a few familiar faces on the other sideline - Brees and head coach Sean Payton.

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"From the midpoint of the season, when (Carolina) got on a roll, you can see the confidence grow with that team". Not only did they defeat the Panthers twice, they did it decisively both times.

If Carolina quarterback Cam Newton doesn't don his cape and play like a superhero in Sunday's NFC wildcard game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the Black and Gold likely will complete the rare trifecta and advance to the divisional round.

But the problem for New Orleans is possible overconfidence, while human nature says Carolina will be motivated.

"That's our plan. We just have to go out and execute". For Carolina to win, it will need a huge performance from Newton.

Stewart sat out last week's 22-10 loss to Atlanta with back soreness. "I know the team's ins and outs". "You pay attention to the personnel and the thing that you didn't do well in the early two games".

Meanwhile, Panthers star tight end Greg Olsen and Saints Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore are slated to play after missing each of the previous two meetings. And obviously, you don't just look at the games you played them.

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