Saints Playoff Picture: New Orleans gets renewed hope

New Orleans Saints (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints defied all odds yet again in their victory over Tampa Bay, a result that may not win them the NFC South but gets them closer to the postseason.

Ceedy Duce pick. Brady shut out. 100 career sacks for Cam. There were a lot of storylines churning out of Week 15’s win, but the biggest one could be that NOLA isn’t finished yet.

Despite an unwatchable offense that could not reach the end zone at all in Week 15, the Saints are back in playoff contention.

Somehow, some way, Taysom Hill’s Saints wormed their way to a 7-7 record, and they have a good chance at winning their final three games.

Defeating the Bucs pretty much cleared their path for the rest of the season, and while a division title probably isn’t in the cards for this Saints team, a postseason berth could be.

Here’s what the current NFC playoff picture looks like after Week 15:

  1. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)
  4. Arizona Cardinals (10-4)
  5. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (8-6)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

IN THE HUNT: 8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), 9. New Orleans Saints (7-7), 10. Washington Football Team (6-8), 11. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

New Orleans Saints suddenly have a decent chance at making it to the playoffs in 2021

The Saints beating the Bucs might not even be the biggest upset of Week 15. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals got beaten up by –of all teams — the Detroit Lions, falling to the fourth NFC playoff seed.

Right now, the Saints’ direct competition for the last playoff seed is the Vikings, who also won in Week 15, as well as the Eagles, who defeated Washington.

The Saints’ remaining schedule looks extremely promising, though: NOLA will play the Dolphins, Panthers, and Falcons. If the Saints can win all those games and finish with a 10-7 record, that could be good enough for the seventh playoff seed.

In Week 16, Sean Payton will likely return as head coach, and Dennis Allen will resume defensive coordinator duties.

The Saints pulled a wild one over Brady’s Bucs, but the team knows their 2021 season isn’t over yet. New Orleans need to improve their passing offense to get touchdowns on the scoreboard rather than relying on Brett Maher and a defense that has too much pressure not to make mistakes.

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It’s still too early to tell, but NOLA may not be going home in January after all.