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New Orleans Saints considering changes ahead of Panthers showdown

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Football News

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has hinted he will ring the changes following his team's defeat against the St. Louis Rams last weekend.

The Saints had established themselves as clear NFC South leaders with a convincing win over nearest rivals the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago, but they are now back to square one following the 27-16 defeat against the Rams.

That means Payton's men go up against the Panthers on Sunday once more, but this time on the road, in what is being billed as a winner-takes-all showdown with the two teams sharing identical 10-4 records.

After last Sunday's game, Payton made it clear he was considering making some changes to his team - with kicker Garrett Hartley, who missed two attempts at goal against the Rams, in serious danger of losing his job.

"It's our jobs very quickly here with an important game coming up to make corrections -- and then also to look closely at who we're asking to do certain things," he told reporters.

Hartley had a lean spell earlier on in the season which prompted the Saints to try out replacement kickers, and Payton wouldn't be drawn on what the future holds for the 27-year-old Texan.

"Listen, I think we're looking closely at every element," he said.

"You know, I told the players today in the team meeting we're looking closely at each aspect of this team. And not trying to read into my answer, I just think it's important for us to do that.

"Whether it's [the kicker], the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense, the one thing I know I don't want to do is just repeat the process over and over again.

"So we're gonna look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance as we get ready to play this coming week and then obviously one week remaining."

After their showdown against the Panthers in Carolina, the Saints take on the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, with a play-off place still well and truly up for grabs.

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