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Rusty Costanza, Associated Press
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton talks to officials in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011.

METAIRIE, La. — Although Sean Payton helped Drew Brees become the NFL's all-time single season passer, the coach isn't divulging whether he'll enable his star quarterback to maintain that distinction.

With 5,087 yards passing after Monday night's victory over Atlanta, Brees enters the final week of the season 190 yards ahead of New England's Tom Brady. Yet the Saints' regular-season finale might not matter in terms of playoff seeding, meaning the more prudent choice for Payton could be to rest Brees for much of Sunday's game against Carolina.

The Patriots, by contrast, must beat Buffalo to ensure they'll have the top seed in the AFC.

Payton says he must consider what puts the Saints in the best position to make a Super Bowl run, and that such decisions are not always popular.