ANALYSIS: "Matt Rhule said Monday that Christian McCaffrey is unlikely to be active in Sunday's finale against the Saints, which means the Panthers will finish their season having played 13 of their 16 games without their best player. When you factor that in, Carolina's 5-10 record doesn't seem so bad. In fact, this team feels like it's on the right track, with Rhule on the sidelines. That Saints matchup could be important for Teddy Bridgewater. The veteran passer has experienced an up-and-down first season in Charlotte, but a strong finale against New Orleans' high-ranked defense would give the Carolina brain trust something to think about in the offseason."
ANALYSIS: "New Year's resolution: Win close games
You've heard this before, but the Panthers are 0-8 in games in which they have had the ball on their last possession with a chance to win or tie. Win half of those and they are right in the playoff mix. Coach Matt Rhule wants to develop a gritty, tough-minded team. Getting over the hump in those type of games will go a long way in turning things around."
ANALYSIS: "They showed some toughness to win a game against Washington on the road. Matt Rhule is showing well this season with an undermanned team."
The Panthers trail the all-time series against the Saints, 25-28. Carolina has played New Orleans more than any other team in its history.