Tom Sorensen

NFL’s best Week 13 matchup is Panthers at Saints. Here’s one way New Orleans is better.

The Carolina Panthers-New Orleans Saints game Sunday is the reason you invest your passion and your money in your team. Three are three glamour games this week. The Minnesota Vikings at the Atlanta Falcons offers glamour, as does the Los Angeles Rams at the Seattle Seahawks. But Carolina-New Orleans is the best game on the schedule, a we-don’t-like-you game between NFC South teams that are 8-3.

I know that some of you will accompany the team. You can explain to your friends with vivid descriptions and cell phone pictures what the atmosphere in New Orleans is like. But the only way to know is to go.

New Orleans and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is where football meets festival, and sometimes the festival wins. My first time there a woman who was dressed provocatively walked up. Across her back was a strap that helped her carry a case that featured a variety of colorful tubes. Inside each tube was a shot of alcohol, and she was selling them for $1 apiece. Hey, I was working.

The town loves its team. On game day some fans dress as if it’s Halloween, or as if they’re attending a home game in Oakland. In the nearby French Quarter music is in the air, and fans move to the beat until they reach the dome.

Sunday’s game will feature a surprise – New Orleans plays defense. The Saints have outscored the Panthers by 74 points this season, which was predictable. But they’ve given up only 15 more points than Carolina. That was not predictable.

If you go to the game, you get a break. The starting time was pushed from 1 p.m. to 4:25.

If by some chance you wake up in New Orleans Sunday morning with a brain that no longer likes you, swing by Café du Monde for coffee. Coffee was introduced to the U.S. in New Orleans, and they added chicory.

The beignets are good. The coffee is essential. If you’ve spent a Sunday morning in New Orleans, you know what I mean.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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