The NFL enters the final quarter of the season this week, which obviously means the Saints have only four games remaining on their regular season schedule. Having defeated the Detroit Lions this past Sunday night, it would be fair to say that what's left of their push to the post-season is more than manageable, with their four remaining opponents combining for an unimpressive 17-31 record. So can they continue their current win streak, finish the season strong and win out their schedule?
It's definitely possible. The Titans are a decent team, but certainly a beatable one and if the Saints lose to the Vikings the following week, I'm not sure they even deserve to make the playoffs. The Falcons are without a doubt their biggest obstacle but that's at home and on Monday night and the Saints seem to shine in primetime. They finish up with Carolina but, again, that's at home, where the Saints have yet to lose.
That would give the Saints a final regular season record of 13-3, a lot better than I'm sure most of us would have predicted at the beginning of the year. So where would that leave them in the playoff hunt? Well that all depends on what the San Francisco 49ers do. At the very least it would It give the Saints a first round playoff game at home against a wild card team. But it could also earn them the second overall seed in the NFC and a first round bye with a little help from the Niners.
Assuming the Saints win out, one more loss for San Francisco would give both teams the same overall record and tie them for that second seed. The Niners own the tie-break, however, with a better record within the NFC. That means if the Saints want that first round bye, they'll need San Fran to lose two of their last four. The Niners play in Arizona, home against Pittsburgh then finish it up with two away games in Seattle and St. Louis.
So now you know what you need to be rooting for. Personally, I'm keeping my fingers crossed extra hard that the Niners tank and the Saints are able to sneak into that second seed for that first round bye because I've got a business trip planned that Wildcard Weekend. If the Saints have to play that first week of the playoffs...trip is off.
By the way, the Saints can clinch the NFC South title and/or a playoff spot this week. Here's how:
New Orleans clinches NFC South division with:
1) NO win + ATL loss
New Orleans clinches a playoff spot with:
1) NO win + DET loss OR
2) NO win + CHI loss