After losing to the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 and failing to clinch the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints are still alive heading into the final regular season week of the 2013 NFL season. Despite some sloppy and disappointing play in their last two games to the Panthers and the St. Louis Rams, the Saints still have an opportunity to play themselves into the postseason in a multitude of ways.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett broke down the different scenarios earlier in the week, and there are several of them for their season ending game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
“Saints clinch the No. 2 seed if they win at home against Tampa Bay and the Panthers (11-4) lose at Atlanta.
Saints clinch at least a wild card playoff spot if they win or tie or the Arizona Cardinals (10-5) lose at home against the San Francisco 49ers (11-4). (Saints will be the No. 5 seed if they win and San Francisco loses; Saints will be the No. 6 seed if San Francisco wins).
“Saints miss the playoffs if they lose and Arizona wins or ties.”
Although this is not the position the Saints organization and its fans hoped or wanted to be in for the final game of the season, it is acceptable. Plenty of other teams are in worse positions, just think of how difficult it was to be a Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars fan this season. Furthermore, New Orleans can usually rise to the occasion and weather the storm quite well.
So, be thankful once again, Saints fans. New Orleans’ postseason situation may not be ideal, but it is doable. If any team can battle through diversity like this, it is one coached by Sean Payton that has five players heading to the Pro Bowl, including Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham.