Saints coach says starters will play against Carolina

Drew Brees threw for 359 yards and 2 TDs when the Saints played the Panthers on Oct. 9 in Carolina.
Drew Brees threw for 359 yards and 2 TDs when the Saints played the Panthers on Oct. 9 in Carolina.

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - The head coach of the New Orleans Saints (12-3) said he is still planning to play his starters against the Carolina Panthers (6-9) on Sunday.

Sean Payton's decision means quarterback Drew Brees will be adding to his NFL record 5,087 passing yards this season.

Brees said there are other records he might wind up breaking against the Panthers, but the focus is really not setting or extending records.

He is concentrating on being ready to seize an unlikely opportunity should the 49ers falter and preparing this team to go into the playoff hitting on all cylinders, a lesson it may not have learned at the end of last season.

"Still kind of pinch yourself that that really happened, but maybe, just because we're so locked in with where we're at and what we still have to accomplish, that it's not necessarily time to reflect," Brees said. "We can do that after the season. We're still thinking about what's ahead."

In the first meeting between the teams this season, the Saints scored with less than a minute left in the game to squeak out a 30-27 win. Brees finished the game with 359 yards through the air and two touchdowns.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard TD toss to wide receiver Steve Smith. Newton also scored on a QB sneak.

Newton has had his own record-breaking season. He broke Peyton Manning's single-season rookie record for most passing yards in a season. Manning finished with 3,739 yards in the 1998 season. Newton currently has 3,893 after a 48-16 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs on Saturday.

Kickoff is scheduled for noon inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints are a perfect 7-0 at home this season and enter the game on a 7-game win streak.

Carolina has won its last two games.

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