Saints fans got a lot more than they bargained for on Sunday in their quest for a first-round bye, but they ultimately clinched the No. 3 seed as both the 49ers and the Packers took care of business in nail-biters to clinch the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the NFC, respectively.
The Saints held up their end, routing the Panthers 42-10 during the early slate, and the Lions gave the Packers everything they could handle in Detroit. Green Bay would ultimately pull out the win 23-20 on a last-second Mason Crosby field goal, so Saints fans were forced to wait until primetime to determine their playoff seeding.
Enter 49ers vs. Seahawks in a battle for the NFC West. The game lived up to its billing, with the Seahawks pulling out an utterly insane 26-21 victory by stopping the Seahawks’ Jacob Hollister on the goal line. The final plays weren’t without controversy, as a potential pass interference on Hollister was missed in the end zone during the series and a bizarre delay of game from the Seahawks on the goal line made it so they needed to gain five yards instead of one, but regardless the 49ers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, with the Packers taking No. 2.
This means that the Saints will be playing on Wild Card Weekend, as they will host the No. 6-seeded Minnesota Vikings at 12 p.m. (central) on Sunday . The Vikings finished the regular season 10-6 behind an impressive year from Kirk Cousins. New Orleans hasn’t played the Vikings this season, their last encounter came last year with the Saints winning 30-20. The last time these teams played in the postseason, of course, saw the infamous “Minneapolis Miracle,” so the Saints will be playing with some revenge on their minds.
Should the Saints end up winning, they would play the Packers at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round. If they win there, it would either be a grudge match against the 49ers in San Francisco or another home game against the Seahawks or Eagles.
The Saints have been rolling the last few weeks, and despite the relatively unfavorable seeding, they finished the year 13-3. While the certainly complicates their route to the Super Bowl, it certainly doesn’t sink them going forward as they try to return to Miami.