With three games remaining in the New Orleans Saints' regular season there is starting to be some clarity on what the Saints need to have happen to secure a playoff spot.
The NFL likely will release official playoff scenarios following the completion of Week 15 games; because of Covid issues, there are still four games to be played: two on Monday (Las Vegas vs. Cleveland, Minnesota vs. Chicago) and two on Tuesday (Seattle vs. Los Angeles Rams, Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles). Two of those games will have a big impact on the Saints' pursuit for one of the seven available spots in the NFC.
New Orleans Saints wild card position in the NFL Playoff picture:
Based on the Saints' 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Saints (7-7) still have a shot to win the NFC South for the fifth consecutive season. New Orleans would need to win out and Tampa (10-4) would need to lose its final three games. Considering the Bucs play the slumping Panthers (5-9) twice and the New York Jets (3-11) it seems unlikely that they would lose all three. That means the Saints will be trying to secure one of three available wild-card spots. If the season ended Monday, Dec. 20 at noon central, the Saints would be in the playoffs with the seventh and final seed but the Monday night and Tuesday night games will change that.
With the Rams (9-4) in good position to secure the top wild-card seed or perhaps even win the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals (10-4) securing a wild-card spot, it appears there are six teams competing for the sixth and seventh seeds - the Saints, the San Francisco 49ers (8-6), the Washington Football Team (6-7), the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7), the Minnesota Vikings (6-7) and the Atlanta Falcons (6-8).
New Orleans Saints NFL playoff seeding possibilities:
Winning out would almost guarantee the Saints a playoff spot but there are scenarios where a 9-8 record gets New Orleans in the playoffs, depending upon what happens with the other teams. If the Saints tie with another team the first tiebreaker is head-to-head and the second is conference record (unless the tie is with the Falcons and then its division record). New Orleans has defeated the Washington Football Team so would hold the tiebreaker there. The Saints lost to the Philadelphia Eagles so they would lose the tiebreaker there. The Saints lost their first game to the Falcons but end the season at Atlanta. New Orleans has not played the Vikings or the 49ers so the next tiebreaker would be conference record. The Saints are 5-5 in the conference with two NFC games to play. The Vikings are 4-4 in the conference with four NFC games to play. The 49ers are 6-5 in the conference with one NFC game to play. If the teams have the same conference record the next tiebreakers are best won-loss tied percentage in common games (minimum of four) and then strength of victory. View NFL tiebreakers here >>
In short, there are a lot of things that can happen in the final weeks of the season. If you're a Saints fan looking for rooting interests for the Monday and Tuesday games it would help the Saints' cause if Washington beat Philadelphia and if the Chicago Bears defeated the Vikings. The Rams could help the Saints out by beating the Vikings in Week 17 and the 49ers in Week 18.
Remaining 2021 NFL Schedule for New Orleans Saints and NFL opponents in the playoff hunt:
Saints remaining opponents/record:
49ers remaining opponents/record:
- Week 16: at Tennessee Titans (9-5)
- Week 17: Houston Texans (3-11)
- Week 18: at Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
Vikings remaining opponents/record:
- Week 16: Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
- Week 17: at Green Bay Packers (11-3)
- Week 18: Chicago Bears (4-9)
Washington Football Team remaining opponents/record:
- Week 16: at Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
- Week 17: Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
- Week 18: at New York Giants (4-10)
Eagles remaining opponents/record:
- Week 16: New York Giants (4-10)
- Week 17: at Washington Football Team (6-7)
- Week 18: Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
Falcons remaining opponents/record:
- Week 16: Detroit Lions (2-11-1)
- Week 17: at Buffalo Bills (8-6)
- Week 18: Saints (7-7)