Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says his team were handed a boost by New Orleans Saints' humbling at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks on Monday.
The Seahawks have qualified for the play-offs and are well on there way to claiming home-field advantage after their crushing 7-34 victory over the Saints.
That leaves the Panthers and the Saints scrapping for the 2nd seed in the NFC divisional round - both have identical 9-3 records and go head-to-head this weekend with the NFC Division South lead on the line.
Rivera says his side can take heart from the manner in which the Saints were defeated, and believes his team have what it takes to pile the misery on Sean Payton's charges.
"I learned that they're beatable," he said yesterday at his news conference.
"I thought Seattle played a very good game and I thought some things were off for New Orleans. But it was good to see, give you a little bit of a jump, a little bit of a head start on our next opponent."
The Panthers are on an eight-game winning streak, remain confident of making it nine-in-a-row, and were boosted by the return to training of Defensive end Charles Johnson on Wednesday.
'I'm feeling good,'' he said. "Knocked a little rust off, did my thing. We've got a long week of preparation, so I'm going to keep getting better every day so I can go into Sunday full speed.''