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Reply To: NFL Week 13 • Previews, Articles, Info. • Sunday 12/6/15

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Preview: Carolina at New Orleans

When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Carolina Panthers return to the site where their regular-season winning streak began nearly a year ago when they travel to New Orleans to face the struggling Saints on Sunday. The Panthers can clinch the NFC South title and remain the NFL’s only undefeated team with a 16th consecutive regular-season victory.

The streak began with a 41-10 rout of New Orleans on Dec. 7, 2014, and the Panthers won their final four games to sneak into the playoffs. Their franchise-record 11-0 run to start this season included a closer call against the Saints – a 27-22 home victory in Week 3 in which New Orleans was without quarterback Drew Brees. The Panthers eked out several close wins early but have won their last three games by an average of 21.3 points – including a 33-14 triumph at Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Saints have lost three straight following a three-game winning streak and are coming off a 24-6 defeat at Houston.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.

LINE: Panthers -7. O/U: 50

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (11-0): Concerns about Carolina’s offense going into the season have proven to be unfounded thanks to a powerful running game led by Jonathan Stewart (832 rushing yards, four touchdowns) and quarterback Cam Newton (427 yards, seven TDs). Newton doesn’t air it out often but has been effective, passing for 2,466 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions despite a dearth of proven receivers. Carolina also has one of the league’s top defenses, ranking second against the run and fifth versus the pass while averaging three sacks per game – third-most in the league.

ABOUT THE SAINTS (4-7): New Orleans registered a season-low 268 total yards against the Texans and was held to fewer than seven points for the first time since 2005. Brees had another lackluster game, and Mark Ingram was held to 52 rushing yards – his fourth straight game with 80 yards or fewer and no touchdowns. That’s not encouraging for a team whose defense has struggled to stop anyone, ranking last in the NFL in scoring defense and next-to-last in total defense.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Newton has recorded passing and rushing touchdowns in each of his last two games against New Orleans and 30 times in his career – one shy of Steve Young’s NFL record.

2. Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL-record 51 consecutive home games.

3. Carolina DE Kony Ealy has recorded a sack in five straight contests.

PREDICTION: Panthers 30, Saints 20