Did you ever think you’d see the day when the Saints scored seven rushing touchdowns – none passing – with Drew Brees at quarterback? It was encouraging, especially with the playoffs fast approaching.
Entering Sunday’s Week 16 games, the Saints’ playoff seeding scenarios were enough to make your head spin. Now after Seattle’s 20-9 win in a defensive struggle vs. the Rams and Green Bay’s 40-14 snow-filled win over Tennessee, the coveted first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC comes down to three 3:25 p.m. showdowns Jan. 3, 2021:
Packers (12-3) at Bears (8-7)
Saints (11-4) at Panthers (5-10)
Seahawks (11-4) at 49ers (6-9)
The Packers control their destiny, so if they beat Chicago, the road to Super Bowl LV goes through Green Bay. But the Bears also control their destiny for a wild card berth and their offense has found a new gear (30+ points in 4 straight games), so anything is possible in a bitter division rivalry like that. However, the Saints not only need to win at Carolina, they also need the Packers to lose and Seattle to win in order to earn the No. 1 seed.
STILL WITH ME? In that scenario, all three teams would be 12-4, and the conference record tiebreaker would come into play and favor the Saints. It could happen. But it won’t matter unless the Saints give themselves a chance by taking care of business and sweeping the Panthers on Sunday. Carolina is a team that would love nothing more than to play spoiler and continue building momentum for next season under first-year head coach Matt Rhule.
No matter how things shake out in Week 17, I want to point out the lowest the New Orleans Saints can be is No. 3. Also, they are on pace to run for more yards as a team (currently 2,109) than they have since 1983. The Saints are averaging the most rushing yards per game and the fewest passing yards per game in the entire Payton/Brees era.
So even if they have to encounter some chilly weather, and ultimately the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to reach the Super Bowl, their success running the football could position them quite well to make a deep postseason run.