Win, win, win no matter what!

NFL Playoff race hot with three games left


The last time we saw our Saints on the field, the stunning finality of the loss to the archrival Atlanta Falcons stung as much as missing an opportunity to lock up a place in the postseason. Alas, New Orleans is 9-4 and in first place in the NFC South. They hold that position due to a season sweep of the Carolina Panthers, also 9-4. They are a game ahead of the 8-5 Falcons, with a rematch against the Dirty Birds on Dec. 24.

This week, the Saints host the New York Jets; a 5-8 team that will be starting backup quarterback Bryce Petty after starter Josh McCown (brother of longtime Saints backup QB Luke McCown) broke his hand last week, ending his season. At press time, the Saints were a 16-point favorite. The Falcons, and the sweet taste of redemption, are on the Superdome menu Christmas Eve. That gives the Jets game all the markings of a trap game. Let’s hope the Saints don’t fill up on the cheese. Focus on this game. Get the win, the tenth of the season.

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It’s important because every bit of separation between the Saints and their division foes is important now. New Orleans has, arguably, the easiest route to the division crown and a home playoff game in the Wild Card round with the Jets (5-8), Atlanta (8-5), and Tampa Bay (4-9). The Panthers have Green Bay (7-6), Tampa, and Atlanta, while the Falcons have the Buccaneers, Saints, and Panthers.

Aaron Rodgers is expected to return to action when the Packers visit the Panthers after missing nearly two months with a broken right collarbone. Green Bay was 4-2 under Rodgers and 3-4 with backup Brett Hundley. The Packers are trying to make their ninth straight playoff appearance, and many hope Rodgers’ return to give his team a jolt. The quarterback is trying to temper expectations of a holiday miracle when the told the press, “Hopefully it gives a lift to some of the guys, but I'm not coming back to save this team. I'm coming back to play quarterback the way I know how to play it. Hopefully, we all raise the level of our play collectively and find a way to win these three games.”

At this point, that’s what every team in the NFC South race has to do, too. If the Saints, Panthers, or Falcons win out, they’ll win the division. Saints fans will definitely be pulling for the Pack to sack the cats and help the Black & Gold get a game plus the tiebreaker ahead of Carolina. Atlanta has Tampa, and while the lowly Bucs appear to be on the edge of dysfunction and a winless close to the season, they could win one of their next three against a division opponent.

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The good news for the Black & Gold is the ball is in the Saints’ collective hands, in the hands of Drew Brees, Cam Jordan, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. I like their chances. Win, win, win no matter what, and the division crown and a playoff game come to New Orleans.



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NFC South Division Standings*

Team              W   L    PCT      PF       PA     Home   Road    Div

Saints              9    4    .692     370      263      5-1       4-3       3-1

Panthers          9    4    .692     300      262      4-2       5-2       2-2

Falcons            8    5    .615     294      261      4-3       4-2       2-1

Buccaneers      4    9    .308     264      312      3-3       1-6       0-3




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