Sunday: 3:40 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium (Ch. 9, 100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
ABOUT THE SAINTS
• The Saints (12-5) staved off the Panthers’ comeback attempt during a 31-26 victory at the Superdome last weekend. Carolina’s 14-point fourth quarter fell short.
• After losing back-to-back games to start the season, including a 29-19 loss in Minnesota, the Saints rallied with eight consecutive victories and won the NFC South.
• Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, likely Offensive Rookie of the Year, have been a stabilizing duo around future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Ingram finished fifth in the NFL with 1,124 rushing yards while Kamara became a versatile rushing/receiving threat.
• The Saints allowed 65 points and 1,025 yards in the 0-2 start, but CB Marshon Lattimore and S Marcus Williams lead New Orleans with five and four interceptions, respectively.
PLAYER SPEAK | QB DREW BREES
• Quarterback Drew Brees, 38, leads the NFL in yards per throw (8.1) while recapturing the single-season completion record (72 percent). He finished fourth in passing yards (4,334) and threw his fewest interceptions (eight) since 2004.
• Brees’ 376 passing yards against the Panthers led all quarterbacks during the NFL’s wild-card weekend.
• On thriving at 6-foot, not unlike 6-1 Vikings QB Case Keenum: “It’s because we’re both Texas kids, that’s why. No, seriously. I think you go through the process with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. Case and I, both coming out of high school, probably weren’t the most highly recruited guys.”
• On preparing for the noise at U.S. Bank Stadium in his 13th playoff start: “That’s why they call it home-field advantage. Communication is at a premium, making sure we’re all on the same page.”
coach speak | sean payton
• Payton is in his 11th season as Saints head coach with a 112-75 record (7-4 in playoffs).
• Payton, the former Cowboys quarterbacks coach when Mike Zimmer was defensive coordinator, has coached the NFL’s No. 1 or No. 2 offense in nine of his 11 seasons, including this season. New Orleans ranked second (391 yards per game) during the 2017 regular season.
• On Adrian Peterson’s early presence and trade to Arizona: “I think that brought the best out of all [three running backs]. As the season progressed, it made sense if a trade opportunity arose and it was something [Peterson] and I had talked about and visited about.”
• On his improved defense: “I think we’ve played better on the back end and I think our rush has gotten better. I think there’s that balance. It’s one of the things Minnesota does well. ”