New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has a relatively inexperienced team that won the NFC South championship, certainly less experienced than its opponent, the Carolina Panthers.
However, Payton said Wednesday that previous NFL playoff games aren’t the only way players can prepare themselves for the stakes and atmosphere that will fill the Superdome late-afternoon Sunday. Big games are big games, with accompanying emotion and pressure, regardless of whether those games were at the NFL level.
“A lot of these younger guys played in the BCS series (actually, College Football Playoffs). It is that same type of environment,” Payton said during a conference call with New Orleans media.
This is the first playoff appearance for the Saints since 2013. By comparison, the Panthers are two years removed from a run to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, Calif. Payton said that does work in Carolina’s favor; the question is to what extent.
“We have a handful of players” with playoff experience, Payton said. “I think (post-season experience) can be a factor, and yet I think the preparation and attention to detail, those type of things are most significant.”