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Saints take control of the NFC South by thumping upstart Carolina

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

The Saints are truly a different team at the Superdome, almost unbeatable with the combination of Sean Payton calling plays and Drew Brees executing them.

And after Sunday, the Saints are a big step closer to ensuring a game at the Superdome on the second weekend of the NFL playoffs.

Carolina came into Sunday night's game as the upstart in the NFC South, riding an eight-game winning streak behind a tough defense and Cam Newton. The Saints tore apart that defense and made Newton a non-factor in an impressive 31-13 win.

New Orleans is now 10-3 and a game ahead of 9-4 Carolina in the NFC South. There will be a rematch in Carolina in two weeks, but the Panthers need help to win the division. If the Panthers win out, the Saints still win the tiebreaker by winning two of their last three due to a better conference record.

 

The Saints, who are now 7-0 at home and 3-3 on the road this season, left little doubt that they should be considered the top dog in the division.

Carolina had allowed just two first-half touchdowns all season, but the Saints scored three touchdowns in the first half on Sunday night. Last week, the Saints were bothered a bit by the noise at Seattle. The Saints' home crowd was polite when their team had the ball, allowing Brees to adjust plays at the line of scrimmage and find the weak spots of the Panthers' defense. Brees was 30-of-42 for 313 yards and four touchdowns, six days after struggling outside against Seattle.

Brees joined Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and John Elway as the only quarterbacks to throw for 50,000 yards in a career, and Brees set a record for reaching that mark in the fewest games.

Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham each had two touchdowns from Brees. And the defense was great against Carolina. Newton had just 160 yards passing, and the Panthers' only touchdown came in the second half when the Saints already had a comfortable lead.

Carolina has been a great story, and its loss on Sunday night doesn't mean it can't make a run in the playoffs in January. But it won't be good for the Panthers, or anyone else, if they have to come to the Superdome in January. It's just too hard to beat the Saints in that building.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

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