After sixteen weeks, the 2019 NFL Regular Season comes to a close, and thankfully the New Orleans Saints are once again in the playoffs. They enter this final week with a second meeting against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints are essentially locked into the third seed as Green Bay has a cakewalk final game and Seattle is decimated by injury going into their finale, this leaves little reason for the Saints to give much time to many of their starters, making this ultimately little more than an exhibition game, at least after scoreboard watching becomes fruitless, barring a Motown Miracle. Regardless of who plays, it would be nice to see the Saints secure a second-consecutive 13-3 record. As 2020 approaches, the Saints now have a second chance to fulfill the stolen promises of 2019. Now let’s take a look at the Saints’ regular season finale as well as all of the pivotal matchups in the final week of the 2019 NFL Season.
Last week I went 14-2
I told you so: Packers over Vikings.
What do I know: Seahawks over Cardinals?
Sunday, December 29th - Early Games
Cleveland ends their overhyped season with a win over a Cincinnati franchise locked in on the draft and Joe Burrow. Cleveland wins 29-17.
Playoff Scenario: A New England win secures a first-round bye.
New England will take no chances with securing the AFC’s #2 seed by smashing Miami early and relentlessly in this one. New England wins 41-7.
Having wet the bed on Monday Night, Minnesota has nothing left to play for as they are locked into the NFC’s #6 seed. They’ll simply mail it in in their home finale. Chicago wins 23-13.
Playoff Scenario: A Kansas City win coupled with a New England loss secures a first-round bye.
Although the likelihood New England loses to Miami is unbelievably low, Kansas City will scoreboard watch while battling the disappointing Chargers until the end, hoping to gain the AFC’s #2 seed. Kansas City wins 30-25.
Playoff-bound Buffalo will smash the Jets behind their bread-and-butter, solid defense and running the ball. Buffalo wins 28-17.
Playoff Scenario: A Green Bay win secures a first-round bye.
Like this past Monday Night, Green Bay will not squander their opportunity to secure a first-round bye. All they have to do is beat another inferior divisional opponent in a climate-controlled dome, forcing their first playoff opponent play in -12º at Lambeau Field in January. Barring a Motown Miracle, this one will be over before halftime. Green Bay wins 24-0.
Falcons(6-9) at Buccaneers(7-8)
These aerial attacks will have this game looking like a carnival of passing yards. With the win, Atlanta will secure its second consecutive 7-9 season! Atlanta wins 35-29.
Saints(12-3) at Panthers(5-10)
The Saints have to do some scoreboard watching between Green Bay and Detroit during this game, they also need to keep some important and ailing players healthy as the playoffs are set to begin. Most importantly, the Saints need to take care of business and win this game to secure another 13-3 season, controlling everything they can control in the outside hopes of securing a first-round bye or even the top-overall seed in the NFC.
It is more than likely that Drew Brees will start, considering Brees is Brees, but he and other key pieces will likely be on a “pitch count” and will see limited action, especially if they can build an early lead and if things get out of control in Detroit early. The Saints should win handily, and although this is divisional play and that tends to make these games tight, this Carolina team has absolutely mailed this season in since the Ron Rivera firing and the Saints have a great chance of putting this to rest early, allowing key guys to rest and gear up for the big game in New Orleans either next week or two weeks from now. Saints win 32-12.
Sunday, December 29th - Late Games
Playoff Scenario: A Philadelphia win clinches the NFC East title.
A huge game from Carson Wentz will secure Philly’s unlikely late charge to the NFC East title and with it a home playoff game next week. Philadelphia wins 27-17.
Playoff Scenario: A Tennessee win secures a Wild Card spot.
The return of Derrick Henry will make all the difference in the world in a game that Houston doesn't really need and that Tennessee needs desperately. Tennessee wins 25-19.
Playoff Scenario: A Dallas win coupled with Philadelphia loss will clinch the NFC East.
Dallas will do everything they possibly can to win the NFC East, but it will be too little too late as they sadly scoreboard watch the Philly game. Dallas wins 24-17.
Playoff Scenario: A Pittsburgh win coupled with a Tennessee loss will secure a Wild Card spot.
The Ravens are locked into the top overall seed in the AFC and will have little to play for while Pittsburgh is battling for their playoff lives. Baltimore will play sit and rest while Pittsburgh plays to win. That will be the difference in this game. Pittsburgh wins 16-14.
Jacksonville picks up the win behind a surprising defensive performance, shutting down the Indy ground game. Jacksonville wins 21-15.
Playoff Scenario: Okay, here we go... An Oakland win coupled with losses by TEN and PIT, also coupled with a win by IND and a win by either CHI, DET, LAC, or NE will secure a Wild Card spot, whew.
Oakland will do their part by beating Denver, but the odds that all the other pieces will fall into place are as unlikely as Detroit beating Green Bay. Oakland wins 23-17.
The defending NFC Champions* will end their season with a big win over Arizona! Wow Rams, what a year! Los Angeles wins 31-6.
Sunday Night Football
Playoff Scenario: The winner of this game will win the NFC West and secure a first-round bye, while the loser will secure the fifth seed, traveling to the NFC East champion in the Wild Card round.
This is the big one for the season finale and it should live up to the hype. Although many are predicting a huge letdown for the injury-riddled Seahawks coming off a disappointing home loss, it would be beyond foolish to count out Russell Wilson, who will put on a one-man show at home in primetime.
Both teams know just what is on the line here, the NFC West title, potentially a first-round bye and a home playoff game as opposed to going on the road to the NFC East champion in the Wild Card round. San Francisco has simply found ways to win close games late this season and this will be no exception. Seattle’s defense will simply have a hard time holding on as the game winds down.
Ultimately, Russell Wilson will carry this team until the very end but will come up just short as the Niners nail the game winning field goal as time expires, forcing the battered Seahawks on the road next week with no time to get themselves healthy. San Francisco wins 28-25.
There you have it, the final week of the 2019 NFL regular season. Here’s to the Saints getting some improbable luck in Detroit and Seattle! Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!