There is a Chance: Breaking Down The Saints Chances of Making the Playoffs
The Saints have not lived up to Who Dat Nations expectations as they are currently sitting in third place in the NFC South with a record of 5-9. With that said, the Saints still have a great chance to make the playoffs. It won't be easy after getting swept by the Brady and Bucs in the season series but after their win over Atlanta yesterday, the Saints do a clear path to the playoffs. They are going to need some things to fall into place, so let's talk about what needs to happen and the interesting scenarios that could unfold in the final stretch of the season.'
The Saints Have To Win Out
Since the Saints are a game behind the Bucs and they were swept in the regular season series, they can't afford to lose another game. With that being said, this won't be an easy task to complete as you look at their remaining schedule. The Saints will be on the road for two of their final three games of the season which is great considering the team has been awful away from the Dome this year. The team's only road win came in week one against the Atlanta Falcons but since then, the Saints have lost five straight on the road.
They will travel to Cleveland on Christmas Eve to take on a Browns squad who are 6-8 and have their highly paid quarterback, Deshaun Watson, back in action again. The Browns are a scrappy team that plays tough, physical defense so this won't be an easy task. They travel to Philadelphia to take on the top-seeded Eagles who have given the Saints a lot of problems in recent years. This will be the Saints' toughest matchup of the year, but there is a chance the Eagles could sit a lot of starters if they lock up the number one seed in the NFC early. The last game of the season will be in the Dome against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers also sit at 5-9 and have looked spotty all year long. The Saints need to win all three of these remaining games in order to have a shot at the playoffs, but Vegas has given the Saints a 4% chance of making this a reality.
The Bucs Need to Lose Out
Technically speaking, the Bucs don't need to lose out for the Saints to make the playoffs, but it would increase our chances. If Tampa were to lose their reaming three games and the Saints win their remaining games, the Saints would have a comfortable two-game lead over the Bucs and clinch the division title. If the Bucs lose two of their last three, the Saints will need to win their last three to have a one-game advantage. Tampa losing out will give the Saints a little insurance.
The Bucs have looked horrible in the second half of this season. With big losses to top contenders like the Bengals and the 49ers, the last three games of the season look very favorable for them. The Bucs will take on a decimated Cardinals team without Kylar Murray and finish up the season against the Falcons and Panthers. Now the Bucs have lost to Carolina earlier this year in a 21-3 blowout, but Vegas gives the Bucs a 74% chance to win out.
Could The NFC South Finish In A Tie?
Yes, this is a likely and also fitting outcome from the division that has been the absolute worse in the NFL. If the Bucs were to go 1-3 and the Panthers and Saints go 2-3, the division would end in a three-way tie for first place. The Saints would not benefit from this at all. The tiebreaker would go to Tampa if they don't get swept by the Panthers. If the Panthers sweep the Bucs then the tiebreaker would go to them.
All of this to say, the Saints really need to win out if they want to make it to the playoffs. If you told Saints fans at the beginning of the year that their record was 5-9 and still had a chance at the playoffs, they wouldn't have believed you but that is our reality. How realistic do you believe the Saint's playoff hopes are?