Good morning, folks. With the playoffs right around the corner and postseason implications in nearly every game on the NFL schedule, I thought it would be beneficial to put together a weekly summary of what games have importance on the Saints’ future. I’ll make a list of important games, then go game by game filling you in on why it is of note, what’s at stake for the playoff hopeful team(s) playing, and, most importantly, what is the best result for New Orleans.
With their Thanksgiving night victory in Atlanta, the Saints clinched the NFC South and assured themselves at least one home playoff game. As a division winner, they can go no lower than the #4 seed. With a 3 game lead and the tiebreaker against the Dallas Cowboys, the #3 is likely the floor. With just four games left, the Cowboys would have to win out, while the Saints lose their final four games for New Orleans to drop to #4. A long shot, to say the least. The Saints are in the best possible position right now. They have the ability to do something every NFL team wants to do. Control their own destiny. With a big time matchup in the Superdome against the current #1 seed next Sunday, they can move to the top of the NFC with a win. What else could help them? Let’s check it out.
Green Bay Packers (8-3) at New York Giants (2-9)
12:00 pm/cst Sunday on FOX
Saints rooting for: Giants
Obviously, there is only one team that matters for the playoff race in this one. The Packers are coming off of a butt whooping at the hands of the 49ers last week. They have the same record as division rival Minnesota Vikings, but hold the tiebreaker thanks to a win over Minnesota earlier this year. The Saints don’t play either the Packers or Vikings, so an identical record with whoever ends up winning the NFC North would come down to the tiebreaker of best record against NFC teams. New Orleans is a game ahead of Green Bay right now, but a New York win would help create some separation. Staying above the Packers is imperative to avoid the possibility of having to go to Green Bay in January.
San Francisco 49ers (10-1) at Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
12:00 pm/cst Sunday on FOX
Saints rooting for: Ravens
Just like the Saints, the 49ers control their own destiny. The two of them are the only teams in the NFC that can say that. This is a huge game for San Francisco, though. With the matchup against the Saints looming, the last thing they want to do is lose this game to come to New Orleans with the same record of 10-2. Losing to the black and gold and falling a game back and losing the tiebreaker would be hard to overcome. Unfortunately for them, they have to go on the road against possibly the best team in the NFL for such an important game. This is an easy call to root hard for the Ravens if you’re a Saints player, coach, or fan.
Minnesota Vikings (8-3) at Seattle Seahawks (9-2)
7:15 pm/cst Monday on ESPN
Saints rooting for: Vikings
Of all of the games with implications on the Saints future, this is the best matchup. The Vikings are trying to keep chase with the Packers, holding the same record and trying get to their Week 16 matchup with a chance to earn the tiebreaker. Seattle is in a similar position, currently a game behind San Francisco in the NFC West, but also looking forward to another matchup with their division foe. This is a game that has pros and cons regardless of what team wins. The Seahawks winning is not awful, because the Saints hold the tiebreaker over them. If you have to travel to either Seattle or San Francisco in the postseason, though, New Orleans would much rather go to California. It’s also preferable for the Vikings to win do simply to their record. They are one game behind the Saints in the win column. A loss for either benefits the black and gold, so it will be fun to watch.