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NFC South Schedule, Week 9: New Orleans Saints Vs. Carolina Panthers Preview

The 1-6 Carolina Panthers are already in spoiler mode, which they tend to do pretty well at when playing division rivals. Though the 5-3 New Orleans Saints righted the ship on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they can't look past a team that nearly won in the Superdome just a month ago. Still, the Saints have already posted two hideous losses to two bad teams -- the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns -- and it would be farfetched to think they have a third in them already.

Atlanta Falcons fans should be rooting hard for a Panthers shocker, as unlikely as it may seem. If the Birds can beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Georgia Dome they'll have a game-plus-tiebreaker lead on the Bucs. A Saints win would tie New Orleans with Tampa, but a Panthers win would put Drew Brees and company more than two games back with less than half a season to go. Again, we can dream.

Last year the Panthers split with the Saints, winning 23-10 in Charlotte as Sean Payton rested Brees and several other starters for the playoffs.

TV time: 1 EST on Fox.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.