Here’s the updated playoff picture, some scenarios that apply to the Saints, and the full picture for the NFC. Note that the Saints are ahead of the Cardinals because they own the tiebreaker with head-to-head win percentage.
x – Clinched playoff spot
FIRST ROUND BYES
#1 – Seattle (12-2) – x
#2 - Carolina (11-4) - x
WILD CARD MATCHUPS
#3 – Philadelphia (9-6) vs. #6 - New Orleans (10-5)
#4 – Chicago (8-7) vs. #5 San Francisco (11-4) - x
#7 – Arizona (10-5), #8 - Dallas (8-7), #9 – Green Bay (7-7-1)
GAMES THAT DIRECTLY MEAN SOMETHING FOR THE SAINTS
12/29 – Carolina @ Atlanta (12PM)
12/29 – Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (3:25PM)
12/29 – San Francisco @ Arizona (3:25PM)
THE SAINTS WILL GET IN THE PLAYOFFS IF….
They beat the Buccaneers or the Cardinals lose. Final seeding could largely depend on the outcome of the 49ers @ Cardinals game.
THE SAINTS WILL GET A FIRST ROUND BYE IF….
They beat the Buccaneers, and the Falcons beat the Panthers. They would finish as the #2 seed.
No one in the NFC has clinched their division, so we could literally see a huge change in the playoffs. Why?
Philadelphia goes to Dallas to play for the division on Sunday Night Football. If the Eagles win, they’ll stay at the #3 seed. If the Cowboys win, they would clinch the NFC East and finish at the #3 seed if the Bears lose to the Packers, or be the #4 seed if Chicago wins. A Packers win would secure them as the #4 seed regardless of any other outcome.
If the Seahawks lose to the Rams, and the 49ers win, the 49ers would become the #1 seed, and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Seahawks win, they’ll lock up home field advantage with the #1 seed.
The Cardinals will get into the playoffs with a Saints loss, and a win over the 49ers.
Should the crazy happen, the Panthers can clinch home field advantage throughout if the Seahawks & 49ers lose, and the Panthers beat the Falcons.
I hope you took notes, there will be a test later in the week.
At any rate, the bottom line is the Saints can either be the #2, #5, #6 seed, or miss the playoffs completely. It also means they can wind up traveling to Green Bay, Chicago, Dallas, or Philadelphia.