1. Cam Newton's supporting cast must step up for Panthers to overcome Saints

When Newton is accurate, efficient and can extend plays and create yards with his legs, the Panthers can beat anybody. Case in point was a Week 4 victory in New England, when he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 44 yards and a score.

He often takes on as much as he can, but it's a delicate balance, and he'll almost surely need more from his supporting cast to beat the Saints in the Superdome.

New Orleans has already rendered Carolina's offense one-dimensional once this season, holding Newton to 167 passing yards in a Week 3 game the Panthers lost at home 34-13. The Saints relentlessly pressured Newton, sacking him four times.

When the teams met again nine weeks later, Newton was being deployed on more designed runs. He rushed for 51 yards, passed for 183 and a pair of scores and helped fuel a more competitive result. Carolina still lost 31-21, but the 2015 MVP feels he's a more effective player when not chained to the pocket.

“That's my edge,” Newton said. “I wouldn't expect you or anybody else to take it away. When I say you, I mean the media as a whole. I'm comfortable running the football. I feel like I help the team when I run the football. And as long as I'm playing this game, I will run the football.”

He's done that frequently of late, running 50 times for 239 yards over the last four weeks. But he's struggled noticeably through the air, throwing six TD passes but also five interceptions.

2. Panthers sign Rivera to two-year extension

Ron Rivera has been signed to a two-year contract extension worth $15.5 million with the Carolina Panthers.

I'm very excited about it because I really like where we are as a football team,” Rivera said in a release posted to the Carolina Panthers website. “We've done some really good things and we have an opportunity to do more. Things are in place and we can continue this success. We've had consistency of winning and we've gone to the playoffs four out of five years."

“This is a tremendous place with tremendous support from ownership and the people that work in the organization. And I really appreciate the support we've gotten from our fans in the Carolinas. That's a big reason why I want to continue my association with this organization.”

Rivera led the Panthers to a Superbowl in 2015.

Rivera is 64-47-1 in the regular season since the Panthers hired him as coach in 2011.

3. Cam Newton, teammates board the plane wearing fancy hats

Cam Newton is known for making fashion statements off the field. Newton's hats, from the brimless hat to the "barbershop quartet" look, tend to get fans talking on social media.

It appears the Carolina Panthers quarterback's bold fashion choices are starting to rub off on his teammates. Check out the video of Newton and his teammates boarding the team plane with "hat swag."

The Panthers are heading to New Orleans to face the Saints in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs. Let's hope the team's swagger carries over to the field Sunday.

4. Three Panthers named to AP All-Pro team

The Associated Press unveiled their 2017 All-Pro team today and three Carolina Panthers were among the recipients.

Left guard Andrew Norwell and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly were named First Team All-Pro while right tackle Daryl Williams was named to the Second Team.

This is the fifth straight year Kuechly was named to the First Team All-Pro, to go along with his fifth straight appearance in the Pro Bowl (unless the Panthers reach the Super Bowl, of course). Kuechly recorded 125 tackles, good for tenth among all players in the league this season. He also picked off three passes.

Norwell is coming off his second straight season starting all 16 games in a season and was named to his first All-Pro team.

Daryl Williams also started all 16 games, the first time in his career he accomplished that feat, and is also a first-time member of the All-Pro team, being named to the Second Team. Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson was named to the First Team.

5. Panthers' Greg Olsen nominated for NFL's 'Man of the Year' for third time

Greg Olsen is one of the stars on the Carolina Panthers, but many in the Charlotte community know him for the work he does off the field.

In December, the star tight end was one of 32 players -- one from each team -- nominated for NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The award recognizes an NFL player for "outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field," according to the league's website.

The Greg Olsen Foundation announced a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Children's Hospital to create the region's first cardiac neurodevelopmental program back in November.

His foundation pledged $750,000 to help kickstart the program.

This is the third time Olsen has been nominated for the award. Panthers linebacker and teammate Thomas Davis won the award in 2014.