Jonathan Stewart

Saints-Panthers rivalry becomes a trilogy in the playoffs

Saints coach Sean Payton takes a small measure of comfort in New Orleans' regular-season sweep of Carolina.

It means the Saints (11-5) play the Panthers (11-5) in the Superdome, where New Orleans hasn't lost a playoff game since 1992 and is 4-0 in the postseason under Payton.

Beyond that, however, the Saints coach asserts that teams evolve over the course of a season as they develop chemistry and adjust to roster or positional changes brought on by injuries.

And on Sunday, there will be a different psychology to performing in the postseason, when losing brings the season to a sudden end.

"Each game's different," said Payton, whose team took its...