After sixteen weeks, the 2015 NFL Regular Season comes to a close, and unfortunately the New Orleans Saints have, for the second consecutive season, failed to qualify for the playoffs. Despite a sub .500 record again for the Saints, there is definitely something important to play for in this final week. The Saints will face their arch-rivals in the Atlanta Falcons. This is definitely one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and usually makes for exciting and memorable games.
The Saints have already defeated the Falcons this season, their stunning 31-21 primetime victory in the Superdome in October. Now, the Saints have the opportunity to sweep the season series with the Falcons, which pretty much makes this season. It would also make up for Atlanta's season sweep of New Orleans in 2014. Neither team is playoff bound, but that doesn't matter much considering how deep the contentiousness runs in this rivalry.
Now let's take a look at the Saints' final game as well as all of the pivotal matchups in the final week of the 2015 NFL Season.
Last week I went 10-6
I told you so: Saints over Jaguars!
What do I know: Panthers over Falcons?
Sunday, January 3rd - Early Games
Saints(6-9) at Falcons(8-7)
New Orleans is going to beat Atlanta, because its the Falcons, and losing to the Saints is what they're best at. Saints win 26-24.
In a game dominated by rushing and defense, the Jets secure a playoff berth with a huge win in snowy Buffalo. Jets win 17-16.
New England will dominate Miami in their last game before the playoff bye, with a surprisingly dominant effort on the ground. The Pats lockdown homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs with this win. New England wins 38-10.
Matthew Stafford lights up the skies in the Windy City by attacking the Chicago defense. Detroit wins 30-21.
Philadelphia takes advantage of the NFL's worst-ranked defense and rallies behind the firing of Chip Kelly, to win in the closing moments at New York. Philly wins 34-33.
Washington, with nothing to play for as far as playoff positioning is concerned, will put it in neutral for the final game, allowing Dallas to squeak out a home win. Dallas wins 24-21.
Indianapolis has a far outside shot of making the playoffs, and they'll do their part by beating Tennessee, but it won't be enough to get them in. Indy wins 34-20.
Cincinnati will do their part for a first round bye, by beating Baltimore, but they will be at the mercy of the Chargers/Broncos game later in the day. Cincy wins 26-21.
Pittsburgh will be scoreboard watching the Jets/Bills game, with their playoff hopes on the line, they'll do their part by trouncing Cleveland. Pittsburgh fails to qualify due to the Jets victory, though. Pittsburgh wins 23-10.
Jaguars(5-10) at Texans(8-7)
Houston's surging defense will overwhelm Jacksonville in this one. The Texans clinch the AFC South title with a win here. Houston wins 27-17.
Sunday, January 3rd - Late Games
Kansas City will have to do some scoreboard watching at the San Diego/Denver game for the AFC West time race, but they will do their part by beating Oakland. Kansas City wins 28-19.
Denver looks to carry over the emotion and momentum from Monday Night's big win, as they host San Diego with a first round bye and their division on the line. The Broncos clinch the AFC West title and a first round bye with a win here. Denver wins 24-12.
Buccaneers(6-9) at Panthers(14-1)
Tampa scores an upset victory in Carolina thanks to an unexpectedly brilliant effort on both sides of the ball, handing the Panthers their second consecutive loss. Tampa wins 24-23.
Arizona had an unbelievable statement game last Sunday against the Pack. They have another one here, as they look to sweep the two-time defending NFC West Champion Seahawks. The torch will officially be passed from Seattle here, as the Cards are poised to make their run for Super Bowl 50. The Cardinals clinch homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs with this win and a Carolina loss. Arizona wins 37-23.
Now we look at the other two teams in the NFC West, and they are both trash, especially San Francisco. St. Louis wins 19-16.
Sunday Night Football
Minnesota is riding high after their thrashing of the Giants, while Green Bay suffered their worst loss of the season at the hands of the Cards. Conventional wisdom says the Vikings are going to take this game and the NFC North title that stands on the line in it. Don't buy that for a second. These are the spots where Green Bay thrives, much like they did in Week 17 last season with the division on the line in Lambeau Field against the Lions.
The Pack know what's on the line and how to get the win when they need it the most. The humbling loss in Arizona may be just what they needed going into this game, while the Vikes may have just enjoyed the fruits of playing the NFL's worst defense last week at home. The NFC North title stays in Titletown™ for another season. Green Bay wins 34-17.
There you have it, the final week of the 2015 NFL regular season. The Saints left a lot to be desired on the field in 2015, let's hope that 2016 sees a renewal for the team. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below. Happy New Year, Who Dat Nation!