All the Saints had to do was win. Win, and they’re in the playoffs.
With the loss yesterday, and another Panthers victory, this makes things even more interesting. The NFC playoff picture is going to be ridiculous to figure out as it is. As for The Saints? Wow, there’s just way too many scenarios.
Here’s what we know with the current NFC Standings:
FIRST ROUND BYES
#1 – Seattle (12-2)
#2 – New Orleans (10-4)
WILD CARD MATCHUPS
#3 – Philadelphia (8-6) vs. #6 – San Francisco (10-4)
#4 – Chicago (8-6) vs. #5 Carolina (10-4)
#7 – Arizona (9-5), #8 – Detroit (7-6), #9 – Green Bay (7-6-1), #10 – Dallas (7-7)
Now, Detroit has yet to play, so of course it may play a factor for the final stages. However, here’s where it gets disturbing.
The Saints now travel to take on the Panthers, and will have to keep on battling to win the NFC South. The division winner WILL have a first round bye, because the Saints or Panthers will finish out at least 11-5 since they play each other and are already at 10 wins. Philadelphia, Chicago/Detroit can’t finish at 11-5.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Should the Saints shake off their road woes and they again will control their own destiny, but they have to beat the Panthers. They beat the Panthers & earn a first round bye, and at have at least one home playoff game.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Saints lose to Panthers, lose to Bucs, Panthers beat Falcons, and Saints (10-6) may not even make a wild card.
If the Saints lose the final two games, a 10-6 record could tie either the 49ers (Atlanta, @Cardinals remaining), Cardinals (@Seahawks, 49ers remaining), and Lions (Ravens, Giants, @Vikings remaining).
The Panthers would take the #2 spot, and the #Saints would end up being the #5 or #6 seed, and would definitely go on the road for a Wild Card game. However, the 49ers need one win to at least finish 11-5 to force the Saints into a tiebreaker with other teams.
IT COULD HAPPEN SCENARIO: Saints lose to Panthers, beat Bucs. Panthers beat Saints, lose to Falcons.
If the Two NFC South Teams Tie? Here comes the tie breaking scenarios, and I won’t go over them all, but you can clearly see what’s going on.
- Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs). Saints 1-0 over Panthers as of now. Matchup next week will tell us all whether we need to keep digging.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division. Saints currently 4-0, Panthers currently 3-1; a loss by the Saints & win against the Bucs would mean 5-1, and then if the Panthers lose to the Falcons, beat the Saints, tie goes to New Orleans with a 5-1 record to 4-2 record. Should the Panthers beat both, they’ll finish with a 5-1 record, and then on to the next tiebreaker.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Strength of victory.
- Strength of schedule.
- Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best net points in common games.
- Best net points in all games.
- Best net touchdowns in all games.
- Coin toss
Remember when the Saints had this division locked down in the early parts of the season? That’s all but a distant memory now.
At the end of the day, we like the Saints chances to still be in the postseason, there’s no denying that. However, at what capacity? We have no idea. Stay tuned!