NFL Playoff Picture: Saints in NFC Hunt

Thearon W. Henderson

I can't even believe we're talking about this but the Saints actually have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.

With their win over the Oakland Raiders, the New Orleans Saints now sit with a .500 overall record and find themselves - incredibly - in the thick of the playoff hunt.

That's right. The Saints are currently tied with Dallas at 5-5 and just one game out of that sixth and final wildcard playoff spot. In their way are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, all with 6-4 records.

NFC Team Div W L T Pct PF PA
1. Atlanta Falcons NCS 9 1 0 .900 270 193
2. Chicago Bears NCN 7 2 0 .778 242 133
3. San Francisco 49ers NCW 6 2 1 .722 213 127
4. New York Giants NCE 6 4 0 .600 267 216
5. Green Bay Packers NCN 7 3 0 .700 263 207
6. Seattle Seahawks NCW 6 4 0 .600 198 161
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers NCS 6 4 0 .600 287 230
8. Minnesota Vikings NCN 6 4 0 .600 238 221
9. Dallas Cowboys NCE 5 5 0 .500 211 224
10. New Orleans Saints NCS 5 5 0 .500 287 273

I really can't tell you how grateful I am that we even have the opportunity to talk about this, after the Saints frightening 0-4 start. Winning the division is an almost outright impossibility, barring some record-breaking meltdown of epic proportions by the Falcons. So you can throw that option out the window. But the door is wide open in the wildcard race.

But the road ahead won't be easy. Particularly their next three games, facing opponents with a combined record of 21-7-1.


Saints Remaining Schedule




San Francisco (6-2-1) Sun 11/25 3:25 PM CST
@ Atlanta (9-1) Thu 11/29 7:20 PM CST
@ New York Giants (6-4) Sun 12/09 3:25 PM CST
Tampa Bay (6-4) Sun 12/16 12:00 PM CST
@ Dallas (5-5) Sun 12/23 12:00 PM CST
Carolina (2-8) Sun 12/30 12:00 PM CST

The two most important games are the ones against Dallas and Tampa Bay, who are fighting for that last playoff spot themselves.

This is the final playoff stretch. The Saints need to finish strong now more than ever. It's looking like a final record of 10-6 will be the magic number to make the dance, assuming no other team goes on a winning tear.

The good news is that if the Saints can win five of their next six, including the Dallas and Tampa Bay games, they'll hold the tie breaker over each of those potential playoff teams except the Vikings.

I'd say the Saints control their own destiny at this point.

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