The New Orleans Saints will not rest the starters in their regular-season finale against the Panthers, a game that will decide final postseason seeding.
Sitting at 12-3, the New Orleans Saints still have their sights on a top-two seed. Entering in Week 17, they are locked in to at least the No. 3 seed. The top four seeds are divisional winners, and it’s impossible for the Eagles or Cowboys to reach even double-digit wins.
However, with the right scenario, it is possible for the Saints to move on up the latter. They have a chance, although slim, to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed. They’d need the 49ers and the Packers to lose, and it’s certainly possible as they take on the Seahawks and Lions respectively.
With that possibility still alive, head coach Sean Payton will absolutely not be resting his starters to close the season away in Carolina.
“No, no, no, no, no, no. Absolutely no. We’re still playing for the 1-, 2- or 3-seed,” Payton said according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett.
It’s a smart decision by Payton.
For fans, it should be just as exciting as they’ll get to see Drew Brees extend his touchdown records while Michael Thomas will also get a chance to extend his single-season receptions record which was set last week against the Titans.
While the Saints will still have multiple offensive lineman and linebackers likely out, the crux of the offense and defense will still be a go. This will give them a great chance to down their divisional rivals on the road.
It’d be insane for them to move to 13-3 and still not have a first-round bye. The NFC is talented, outside of the division featuring the Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, and Eagles. However, the combination of all four plus the two wild card teams will give fans an entertaining postseason.
Payton isn’t holding up with inches to go. He’s pressing forward, and it’s great to see him keeping this high-octane offense in rhythm.