Not so long ago, mentioning the Saints and the playoffs in the same sentence seemed to be the most normal thing ever; which was kind of abnormal, given that prior to 2006 the words "Saints" and "playoffs" were very seldom found in the same paragraph. But then came the golden age of New Orleans football and from 2006 until 2013, not playing in January was seen as an anomaly in the Big Easy. Fast-forward two years later and just getting to 8-8 would be seen (by some) as a victory.
I'm not in that number. I think it's foolish for the Saints to try and win their remaining games and the numbers support that opinion. However, I'm going to quickly remind all of us that yes, New Orleans is still in play for a postseason berth. A win against the Texans this coming Sunday in Houston would go a long way into keeping those slim playoffs odds alive. Just...don't bet your house on Dennis Allen's defense not making Brian Hoyer look like Peyton Manning circa 2009.
In case you needed a refresher on what the NFC playoff picture looks like, here it is:
(10-0-0) Proj: 1st Seed
(8-2-0) Proj: 2nd Seed
(7-3-0) Proj: 3rd Seed
(5-5-0) Proj: 4th Seed
(7-3-0) Proj: 5th Seed
(6-4-0) Proj: 6th Seed
(5-5-0) Proj: 7th Seed
(5-5-0) Proj: 8th Seed
(4-6-0) Proj: 9th Seed
(4-6-0) Proj: 10th Seed
(4-6-0) Proj: 11th Seed
(4-6-0) Proj: 12th Seed
(4-6-0) Proj: 13th Seed
(3-7-0) Proj: 14th Seed
(3-7-0) Proj: 15th Seed
(3-7-0) Proj: 16th Seed
As you can see, the lurking Saints are currently projected to be the 12th seed in the NFC, with five teams between them and the final wild card spot, including two (Philadelphia and Washington) that own the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. Needless to say that making it to meaningful January football will be tall task for the Black and Gold.
Maybe more importantly, take a look at New Orleans' odds to make the playoffs as well as their projected number of wins, chances of getting the number one pick in the next NFL draft and odds of winning the NFC South or the Super Bowl according to numberFire.com:
These are brutal numbers I know, but football is a brutal sport.
What I see here is a team that is most likely going to watch the playoffs on TV like you and me, barring a complete meltdown by all the other higher-ranked NFC wild card contenders.
Worse, the Saints are not going to be able to truly help their cause with their draft-positioning, because we all know that this team will find a way to win three more games and finish 7-9, don't we?
There you have it. Your verdict: should the Saints play their old guys and try to scrape a few, (likely) meaningless wins or should they play all their young guys on defense, bench the likes of Browner and Lewis and enter true rebuilding mode?