The New Orleans Saints (11-4) look to close out the season on a high note in Charlotte, NC, against the Carolina Panthers (5-10). The two teams met up in Week 7 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Saints were victorious 27-24.
Here are the three things to watch in Sunday's NFC South matchup.
Potentially Drew Brees' Final Regular-Season Game
The 20-year NFL veteran quarterback became the first NFL player to surpassed 80,000 yards in Week 16. Week 17's contest against Carolina could be his final regular-season game in the NFL. Brees has not made his intentions clear to what may follow for his career after the 2020 season, although retirement was on his mind this past off-season.
Brees enters the final week holding numerous NFL records, a Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl MVP, and a first-class ticket to Canton whenever his playing days are over. He is the greatest player to sport the Black and Gold but wants nothing more than to win another Super Bowl. A win against Carolina could make the road to Tampa in February for Super Bow 55 much easier for New Orleans.
If the NFL's All-Time Passing Leader retires at the end of this season, he'll own the NFL records from the most attempts, completions, and passing yards. With the long list of accolades, #9 will forever have a special place in New Orleans Saints fans' hearts.
The First-Ever Clean Sweep of the NFC South
The New Orleans Saints have a 5-0 record against their NFC South rivals in 2020. A win against the Panthers will have the Saints to accomplish something no other NFC South team has ever done. Since the division was founded in 2002, no team has had a clean sweep of all divisional opponents in the same season.
The Black and Gold came close last season, going 5-1 against the division. The lone defeat came at the Atlanta Falcons' hands in Week 10 of the 2019 NFL Regular Season.
The Saints do not just have the chance to sweep; they also have plenty of motivation to win with the NFC's top seed is still in reach.
New Orleans Ending Up as the NFC's Top Seed...With Some Help
Yes, despite the rough start to the 2020 season and back-to-back losses in December, the Saints can still end the season as the NFC's top seed. New Orleans will have to take care of business against the Panthers in Week 17, advancing to 12-4 and have some help from two NFC teams.
The Who Dat Nation will be rooting for the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks in Week 17. A Bears' victory over the Packers and a Seahawks win over the 49ers would create a three-way tie for the NFC's top spot with the Saints, Packers, and Seahawks all holding a 12-4 record.
Although the Saints lost to the Packers in Week 3, the head-to-head tiebreak would be thrown out because of the three-way tie. The next tiebreaker would move to record vs. conference opponents that New Orleans would win over Green Bay and Seattle.
Without both games going in the Saints' favor, it will be impossible for the Saints to clinch the number one seed. However, with the Division crown in hand, New Orleans has guaranteed a top 3 finish and at least one home playoff game.
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