Saints crush Panthers 42-10 in finale and await NFC Playoff Seeding

Following a 42-10 victory in Carolina, the New Orleans Saints finish 13-3 and await their seeding in the 2019 NFC Playoffs.
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Charlotte, NC-The New Orleans Saints (13-3) conclude the regular season with 13 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, following a 42-10 victory over divisional rival Carolina Panthers (5-11). 

Against the NFL’s 31st ranked rush defense, the Saints rushing attack was dominant behind a healthy offensive line returning guards Larry Warford and Andrus Peat to the starting lineup. In the first half, the Saints’ backfield tandem of Kamara and Murray rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns, both by Alvin Kamara in the first quarter.

The Saints’ defense sparked a monstrous second quarter of action, with LB A. J. Klein’s first career touchdown. Klein's interception against his former team was returned 14 yards and resulted in a pick-6 off of QB Will Grier.

After extending the lead to 21 points, QB Drew Brees located TE Jared Cook and WR Tre’quan Smith for touchdowns in the second quarter giving the Saints a 35-3 halftime lead. The 32-point lead is the largest lead the Saints have taken into halftime in franchise history.

With a 42-3 lead, Drew Brees’ day was over late in the 3rd quarter. Brees finished the game 19 of 30, for 253 yards, 3 Touchdowns and 0 interceptions. It was Brees’ fourth consecutive game with at least 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions joining Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady as the only to do so in NFL history. Brees has thrown 15 touchdowns in that time span. 

The Panthers’ offensive struggles continued in third-round pick QB Will Grier’s second career start.  The Carolina offense accounted for only nine yards until he left the game in the second quarter due to an ankle injury suffered in the first half. The injury a result of DE Cameron Jordan’s career best 15.5 sack of the season. QB Kyle Allen, who started against the Saints back in week 12 played in relief of Grier and finished 25 of 41, for 295 yards and 1 interception. The Panthers lone bright spot of the 2019 was former Heisman candidate RB Christian McCaffrey, who cemented this season as one of the best ever by an NFL running back. McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to reach 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season joining RB Roger Craig and RB Marshall Faulk.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING:

The Saints’ path to Super Bowl LIV remains unclear even after clinching the NFC South title back on Thanksgiving Day.  Entering Week 17, the Saints held the #3 seed with the ability to finish as either the one, two, or three seed headed into the playoffs. To finish as the number two seed and clinch a first round bye, the Saints would need a Seattle victory over San Francisco on Sunday Night. The Packers defeated the Lions 23-20 and earned a first-round bye.

DEJA VOO DOO:

The 2017 Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara looks to have returned to his All-Pro form over the past 2 weeks scoring more touchdowns (4) over the past 2 games than he did the first 12 weeks of the season (2).  Over the past two weeks Kamara has accounted for 167 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also finishing as the Saints leading rusher with 797 yards despite missing 2 games to injury in the middle of the season.

ROAD WARRIORS:

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints advance to 7-1 on the road this season, the lone loss coming against the Rams in Week 2.  Over the past two seasons the Saints are 14-2 on the road in the regular season and have won their last 7 games on the road to close out 2019.

UP NEXT:

Following their 42-10 victory over the Panthers (5-11) the Saints (13-3) await the results of Sunday Night Football’s NFC West Matchup between the Seahawks (12-3) and the 49ers (12-3).  With a Seahawks victory the Saints will clinch a first-round bye and host a Divisional Round matchup inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on either January 11th or 12th. With a 49er victory, the Saints would host the Minnesota Vikings (10-6) next weekend on January 4th or 5th.

Follow Brendan Boylan on Twitter via Twitter: @btboylan

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