Let’s say, finally, that the Saints don’t make it to .500, and finish at 7-9 for the third year in a row.
They’d need to lose three games between the Lions, Rams, Bucs, Cardinals, and Falcons to get to this point. Unfortunately, just as it’s possible that the Saints win out, this scenario is entirely conceivable. And at 7-9, the Saints wouldn’t realistically have a shot at the playoffs.
Let’s not even consider what the Panthers and the Bucs would need to do with the end of their season: the Saints would need a huge help from the Falcons to make 7-9 a playoff team.
Even if the Saints win their Week 17 matchup, they’d need the Falcons to lose to either the Rams or the 49ers, and then to the Chiefs, Panthers, and Cardinals. Not inconceivable, I know, but considering how the Rams and Niners are playing it’s not likely. And that only works for the Saints if they win at ATL, and sweep the Bucs.
If either of those things don’t happen, Atlanta would need to lose out. As much as I expect them to falter at the end of the season, I don’t see an 0-6 run from the Falcons here.
Nobody wants to see 7-9 again.