The New Orleans Saints sure looked like they were on course for a complete meltdown following their Week 14 loss at home to the Carolina Panthers. However, through evident leadership, coaching, and personnel changes, the Saints were able to march into Chicago to knock off the Bears to restore their confidence. At 6-8, the Saints control their destiny for the 2014 NFL Playoffs.
With the Atlanta Falcons losing and Carolina Panthers winning, it sets up an ideal situation for the Saints heading into Week 16.
Before we get into that, let’s look at the overall picture in the NFC:
#1 – Arizona Cardinals (11-3)
#2 – Detroit Lions (10-4)
#6 – Green Bay Packers (10-4) vs. #3 – Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
#5 – Seattle Seahawks (10-4) vs. #4 – New Orleans Saints (6-8)
In the Hunt…
#7 – Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
#11 – Carolina Panthers (5-8-1)
#14 – Atlanta Falcons (5-9)
The Packers were upset by the Buffalo Bills Sunday, and with the Lions winning, they moved into second place. Philadelphia lost to Dallas, which allowed the Cowboys to move back in as the NFC East leaders. The 49ers were officially eliminated after losing to the Seahawks. An eerie feeling may set in when you think about hosting the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round of the Wild Card (see 2010).
The NFC South is not decided, but the ball is in the Saints’ court. Here’s how the division pans out:
1. New Orleans Saints (6-8), 2-2 division
2. Carolina Panthers (5-8-1), 3-2 division
3. Atlanta Falcons (5-9), 4-0 division
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12), 0-5 division
Looking ahead at the NFC South impact in Week 16:
Atlanta at New Orleans (12PM CST/1PM EST)
Cleveland at Carolina (12 PM CST/1PM EST)
Green Bay at Tampa Bay (12 PM CST/1PM EST)
Worst Case Scenario: The Saints lose to the Falcons while the Panthers beat the Browns, which would eliminate the Saints from playoff contention.
Best Case Scenario: The Saints win while the Panthers lose, which would crown the Saints the NFC South Champs.
What Likely Happens: We have to cheer on Johnny Manziel, but have to take care of our business. The Saints have lost four straight games at home, and cannot afford lose a fifth. This team must show up and play.
Looking Further Ahead: For Week 17, be sure to check out the NFC South Playoff Scenarios, which tell you how things pan out for the Saints and other teams.