Saints smother Panthers to close on home-field advantage for playoffs

Saints smother Panthers to close on home-field advantage for playoffs

Carolina Panthers running back and Colorado-native Christian McCaffrey ran his way into the record books on Monday night.

McCaffrey's heroics aside, the Panthers (6-8) have lost six straight contests and are all but eliminated from playoff contention.

The Panthers say Taylor Heinicke will be starting as quarterback this Sunday against the Falcons, and next Sunday, December 30 against the black and gold.

The second-year running back has 979 rushing yards and 768 receiving yards with 13 total touchdowns so far this season and has set an National Football League record with five straight games of at least 50 rushing and 50 receiving yards.

But a Cam Newton pass to Devin Funchess in the end zone ended up in the hands of Saints cornerback Eli Apple, whose interception kept Carolina's first-half edge at 7-6. But in the end the Saints kept marching, winning 12-9 in an ugly, ugly game. That was until a fumble by D.J. Moore on a run up the middle resulted in the Saints getting the ball back on their own 18-yard line.

The combination of the Saints' win and the Rams' loss puts New Orleans one game ahead of the Rams. There will be plenty of questions for head coach Ron Rivera and how to address the team's future in the offseason.

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