New Orleans Saints' Finale Has More Importance Than Just Passing Record

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IDecember 26, 2008

The Panthers are fighting for a first round bye.  Drew Brees needs 402 yards to break Dan Marino's single season passing record.

These two story lines dominate the previews for the Saints' season finale against the Panthers.

While a victory over the Panthers would avenge an earlier loss this season, and it would be sweet for Saints' fans to see Drew Brees own the passing record, Sunday's game against Carolina is more important than that.

The Saints have struggled against the Panthers in recent years.  The Panthers usually bring a physical defense and a solid running game against the Saints, and this game will be no different.

A win against the Panthers would give the Saints confidence that they can play against a physical team that has a lot on the line. 

Quarterback Jake Delhomme also has been a thorn in the Saints' side.

In 2003, Jake Delhomme went from New Orleans' back-up to Panthers' starter.  The Saints are just 3-8 against the Panthers since then, including 0-5 at home. 

In fact, Delhomme is perfect in the Superdome as a starter.  He won his only start in the dome in a black and gold uniform against the Cowboys on Christmas Eve of 1999.

Besides finally beating Delhomme in the dome and showing their meddle against a physical team, the Saints can build momentum for next season.

The Saints have already won four of their last six games, and a win against the Panthers will give the Saints a winning record.

New Orleans would not be the first team to use momentum from one season to launch success for the next.

In 2006, the Tennessee Titans started the season 0-5 but finished 6-1.  The following season the Titans started off 6-2 on their way to a playoff berth.

Last year, the Titans ended the season 4-1.  They used that momentum to start this season 10-0 and lock up home-field advantage.

Only time will tell if the Saints can win against the Panthers, take that momentum, and build towards a good start in 2009.