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Saturday, December 21, 2013
W2W4: Saints at Panthers

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers always select somebody inspirational, whether it's a military member or a former player, to bang the "Keep Pounding" drum to fire up fans prior to home games.

On Sunday, for the first time in team history, an active player will have that honor.

They couldn't have selected anyone more inspirational than outside linebacker Thomas Davis, who has come back from three consecutive season-ending ACL injuries on his right knee to have the best season of his NFL career.

"It's a huge honor," Davis said.

Drew Brees
A key for the Panthers will be getting pressure on Saints QB Drew Brees, who passed for 313 yards and four TDs against Carolina earlier this season.
But what Davis really is looking forward to is getting a second chance to bang New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who decimated Carolina's second-ranked defense for 313 yards passing and four touchdowns in a 31-13 victory at the Superdome two weeks ago.

"Whenever a team beats you, you always want to get another shot at them," Davis said. "As competitors, that's something that's on your mind and something you think about.

"We have to understand that's just what it is, an opportunity. That doesn't mean we're going to go out there and win. We have to do what we're supposed to as a team to make sure we are able to go win this game. It's not going to be a given."

The playoffs aren't a given for the 10-4 Panthers, either. While they can wrap up at least a wild-card spot with a victory against the Saints (10-4), a loss would put them in the position of needing a victory the following week at Atlanta to make it.

And even that wouldn't guarantee a spot if Arizona (9-5) won its final two games against Seattle and San Francisco.

"We understand what the situation is right now," Davis said. "As it stands right now, we're not in the playoffs yet. We know we control our own destiny. That's the good part about it.

"We're not sitting back like some of these other teams waiting on somebody else to lose and waiting on this to happen. We know if we go out and take care of business as a team and get done what we're supposed to get done, none of that matters."

With that, here are my five keys for Carolina to take care of business against New Orleans: