November 30, 2016
This week could end up being extremely fruitful for the New Orleans Saints. If there was ever a week to catch up in the NFC South and the playoff race, it is this week.
At 5-6, http://www.espn.com/nfl/standings">New Orleans sits two wins behind the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons, who lead the NFC South, and a game behind the 6-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Atlanta hosts the 8-3 Kansas Chiefs out of the AFC West, and Tampa Bay travels to face the San Diego Chargers, also out of the AFC West.
The http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-playoff-picture-week-12-update-miami-sneaks-in-seahawks-loss-opens-up-nfc/">Chiefs are solidly in the playoff picture and battling with the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos for the division title. http://www.nfl.com/playoffs/playoff-picture">San Diego is still alive in the AFC playoff picture but can’t afford to lose many more games.
If both the Falcons and the Buccaneers lose this weekend, New Orleans would move into a tie with Tampa Bay and end up just a game behind Atlanta. The http://www.espn.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/no">Saints need to beat the Detroit Lions at home this Sunday, Dec. 4.
New Orleans must gain ground this week on Atlanta. The http://www.espn.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/atl">Falcons, after playing the Chiefs, face the 4-7 Los Angeles Rams, the 1-10 San Francisco 49ers, the 4-7 Carolina Panthers and the Saints to end the season.
Atlanta has a chance to win every game and the division, but if New Orleans can win out and get a little help from another team, the Saints could win the division. There is little room for error, but the Saints could be peaking right now.
New Orleans has played vastly better on defense over the past two months and is getting healthier by the day. The Saints’ offense has been its normal explosive self but needs to cut down on turnovers.
Catching Tampa Bay will be easier for New Orleans. The http://www.espn.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/tb">Buccaneers, after playing the Chargers, face the Saints, the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys, Saints (again) and Carolina.
If New Orleans can sweep the Buccaneers and get some help from, say, the Cowboys, then the Saints would easily pass Tampa Bay. The Saints would need help to get in the wildcard picture, with the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings ahead of the team.
Dallas could really help New Orleans out with games against the Vikings, Giants, Redskins and Buccaneers, but New Orleans needs to keep winning, as well.
New Orleans just has to win its remaining six games, and the playoffs should be in reach. One loss might not hurt but more than one could end any postseason hopes.
The Saints will have something else to play for this weekend, too. Head coach http://www.neworleanssaints.com/team/coaches/sean-payton/0f5bb4a7-91e1-49dd-870e-343a124ea92e">Sean Payton is tied with Jim Mora for most wins in franchise history. Both coaches have 93 wins, and a victory over the Lions will mean that Payton has the most wins of any head coach in Saints history.
It would seem fitting to reach the playoffs in the franchise’s 50th season and with the new top head coach.