NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints will be playing their starters against the Carolina Panthers, coach Sean Payton told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate Wednesday. 

Speaking to reporters on Christmas, Payton said the team was still clawing for a better seed. The Saints had a shorter practice Wednesday because of the holiday. 

"We're still playing for one, two or three seeds," he told the newspaper. "We're still playing for all those things in front of us." 

The Saints are currently the No. 3 seed, but could easily jump to the No. 1 or 2 seed as long as they beat the Panthers. 

If the San Francisco 49ers fall to the Seattle Seahawks, or the Detroit Lions overtake the Greenbay Packers, New Orleans will likely jump a position. 

If both San Francisco and Greenbay lose and New Orleans wins, the Saints will secure the No. 1 seed. 

At stake is a bye week heading into the playoffs that would give the team a chance to rest their starting lineup before the uphill climb to the Super Bowl in 2020. 

Last year, the Saints lost to the Panthers in week 17 after benching several starters because they had already secured the No. 1 seed. 

Kickoff is scheduled for Dec. 29 at noon in Carolina. 

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