The Saints are still in the hunt for a 1st round bye, but it’s gonna be very tough.  They need to run the table (I think) and go 13-3 to have a realistic chance, and even then it’s not a done deal by any means.

Here are the current NFC playoff standings:

Minnesota Vikings (1) 10 2 0 North Champion strength of victory
Philadelphia Eagles (2) 10 2 0 East Champion
Los Angeles Rams (3) 9 3 0 West Champion head-to-head record
New Orleans Saints (4) 9 3 0 South Champion
Seattle Seahawks (5) 8 4 0 Wild Card #1 conference win percentage
Carolina Panthers (6) 8 4 0 Wild Card #2

Saints have @ATL, NYJ, ATL, and @TB left on the schedule.  Can the Saints run the table and go 13-3?  It’s very possible.  The most likely scenario is 3-1 (splitting with ATL) and finishing 12-4.  I think a lot will depend on whether Lattimore, M. Williams, and Armstead can play Thursday in Atlanta, the toughest remaining game, IMO.  Lattimore is the biggest key.

Minnesota Vikings remaining schedule:

@ Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals
@ Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears

That’s a tough schedule to have to try to run the table with.  The Bears is probably a win, but @CAR is tough, CIN is not easy, and GB will almost certainly have Aaron Rodgers back.

Philadelphia Eagles remaining schedule:

@ Los Angeles Rams
@ New York Giants
Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys

The first game @ LA is tough (as the Saints can attest to).  Wouldn’t be a shocker if the Eagles lose that one.  But even if they don’t it could help the Saints because the Rams are also one of the teams the Saints are chasing.  @NYG should be a win.  Raiders could be tough because they’re still alive for their division.  Cowboys game will be Zeke Elliot’s 2nd game back after his suspension.  I could see the Eagles going 2-2 in those 4 games to finish 12-4.

Los Angeles Rams remaining schedule:

Philadelphia Eagles
@ Seattle Seahawks
@ Tennessee Titans
San Francisco 49ers

Those first 3 games are brutal.  We’re going to find out a lot about the Rams in the next 3 weeks.  I could see them going 2-2 or even 1-3.  It’s good news / bad news the Rams and Eagles are playing because one is going to lose, but one is going to win, too.  We should probably pull for the Rams in this game because they have a rough go of it against Seattle and Tennessee, both on the road coming up after that one.  There’s a fair chance the Rams will drop one of those 2 road games, if not both.

Conclusion

If the Saints can manage to run the table they have a decent shot at a first round bye, but by no means is it a given.  Biggest problem is 2 of their 3 losses came against the Vikings and Rams, 2 of the very teams in contention for a first round bye.  It won’t be good enough to go 13-3 if either or both of those teams also go 13-3.  But there is a chance (a *chance*) the Saints could beat out the Vikings/Rams in a 3-way tie if the Eagles are the other team also in the mix.  I’ll examine that scenario in a later week if it looks like it’s going to happen.

Advertisements