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Saints Playoff Seeding Scenarios

Good evening, Who Dat Nation. With Week 16 now in the rear-view mirror, I wanted to lay out all of the seeding possibilities for the New Orleans Saints based off of Week 17 results. The lowest the Saints can finish is the #3 seed, so I will explain what needs to happen for them to end up at #1, #2, or #3. There are only three games that have implications for New Orleans’ seeding.

  • Saints at Panthers
  • 49ers at Seahawks
  • Packers at Lions

Let’s get straight to it.

The Saints get the #1 seed if:

  • New Orleans beats Carolina
  • Seattle beats San Francisco
  • Detroit beats Green Bay

This scenario would have the seeding as follows:

  1. New Orleans (13-3, NFC South Champs)
  2. Seattle (12-4, NFC West Champs)
  3. Green Bay (12-4, NFC North Champs)
  4. Philadelphia or Dallas (NFC East Champs)
  5. San Francisco (12-4, Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota (11-5 or 10-6, Wild Card #2)

The Saints get the #2 seed if:

  • New Orleans beats, loses, or ties Carolina
  • Seattle beats San Francisco
  • Green Bay beats Detroit

In this scenario, it does not matter what the Saints do against the Panthers. A win would put them at 13-3, with a loss putting them at 12-4. A Seahawks win would make them NFC West Champs at 12-4, but the Saints have the tiebreaker do to the Week 3 matchup in Seattle, so New Orleans would either finish a game ahead or tied with the same record, but get #2 with the tiebreaker. The seeding would look like:

  1. Green Bay (13-3, NFC North Champs)
  2. New Orleans (13-3 or 12-4, NFC South Champs)
  3. Seattle (12-4, NFC West Champs)
  4. Philadelphia or Dallas (NFC East Champs)
  5. San Francisco (12-4, Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota (11-5 or 10-6, Wild Card #2)

The Saints also get the #2 seed if:

  • New Orleans beats Carolina
  • San Francisco beats Seattle
  • Detroit beats Green Bay

This scenario would put the Saints and 49ers at 13-3, with the Packers at 12-4. The 49ers hold the tiebreaker over the Saints due to their Week 14 win in New Orleans, so they’d get the top spot. Seeding would look like this:

  1. San Francisco (13-3, NFC West Champs)
  2. New Orleans (13-3, NFC South Champs)
  3. Green Bay (12-4, NFC North Champs)
  4. Philadelphia or Dallas (NFC East Champs)
  5. Seattle (11-5, Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota (11-5 or 10-6, Wild Card #2)

The Saints get the #3 seed if:

  • New Orleans beats, loses, or ties Caroina
  • San Francisco beats Seattle
  • Green Bay beats Detroit

Wins by the Saints, 49ers, and Packers would put them all at 13-3. The three-way tie is not favorable to the Saints, because all three of their losses are to NFC teams, while the 49ers and Packers would only have two losses in the NFC and conference record is the tiebreaker. A Saints tie or loss would put their record behind the other two. In this scenario, the 49ers hold the tiebreaker over the Packers, regardless of what the Saints do, so the seeding would look like this:

  1. San Francisco (13-3, NFC West Champs)
  2. Green Bay (13-3, NFC North Champs)
  3. New Orleans (13-3 or 12-4, NFC South Champs)
  4. Philadelphia or Dallas (NFC East Champs)
  5. Seattle (11-5, Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota (11-5 or 10-6, Wild Card #2)

The Saints also get the #3 seed if:

  • Carolina beats New Orleans
  • San Francisco beats Seattle
  • Detroit beats Green Bay

This is probably the biggest long shot scenario, because it would involve two huge upsets with the Panthers beating the Saints and Lions beating the Packers. Both the Saints and Packers would be 12-4, with the Packers holding the tiebreaker do to a better conference record. Seeding would look like this:

  1. San Francisco (13-3, NFC West Champs)
  2. Green Bay (12-4, NFC North Champs)
  3. New Orleans (12-4, NFC South Champs)
  4. Philadelphia or Dallas (NFC East Champs)
  5. Seattle (11-5, Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota (11-5 or 10-6, Wild Card #2)

I believe that is all of the scenarios if each game is decided with a winner and loser. If either the Packers-Lions game or 49ers-Seahawks game tie, things could get very complicated. We will cross that bridge if we get there with ties being very rare in the NFL. It is unfortunate to be sitting at 12-3 and not control your own destiny for a first round bye, but that is the position the Saints find themselves in. All they can do is take care of business in a game they will be heavily favored in and hope to get some help from the Seahawks and Lions.

If you guys have any questions regarding all of this, please don’t hesitate to hit me on Twitter @DCBilliotJr. I will be happy to answer anything you have. I always enjoy talking to you guys. Until then, you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and we will talk soon!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @DCBilliotJr for daily Saints talk and live tweeting of each and every game!