Saints chances of getting top seed better than listed odds
On the surface, it does not look likely.
The percentages and analytics give the New Orleans Saints slim chance of earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the cherished, exclusive bye in the conference this season.
First things first.
The Saints have to win Sunday at Carolina.
New Orleans is a 6.5-7 point favorite to do so.
The Panthers would like nothing better than to spoil the party for the Saints.
Teddy Bridgewater is suitably motivated and solid.
Joe Brady would love to show his mentor that he is his equal.
The division rivalry is always heated.
The Saints are 5-0 in NFC South play so they will try to complete a sweep.
While the Saints have significant injuries, so do the Panthers. It is that time of year.
That is why winning and why getting the top seed is so important for New Orleans.
A year ago, the Saints were a banged-up team heading into a playoff game with the Vikings.
You know what happened as the Saints lost as a solid favorite, at home.
The only way for the Saints to reach the top seed is to end up in a 3-way tie with Green Bay and Seattle.
The Seahawks face a tough division game on the road on the road against San Francisco in Glendale, AZ.
Still, the Seahawks have a lot to play for, have an improving defense and have Russell Wilson. I like Seattle’s chances to get it done.
The Seahawks want to get a top two seed, if possible. There is motivation and it comes against a division rival that played in the Super Bowl a year ago.
Then, there is Green Bay.
The Packers may be playing the best football of any team in the NFC and are right there with Kansas City and Buffalo in terms of playing the best football in the league right now.
Green Bay has won five straight games and the offense, led by Aaron Rodgers, has been virtually unstoppable. The Packer defense has limited its last four opponents to a total of 70 points.
Back on Nov. 29, the Packers beat the Bears 41-29 at home at Lambeau Field.
Now, Green Bay travels to Soldier Field for the rematch.
The Bears started the season 5-1 and looked pretty good.
Then, they lost six in a row, including a 26-23 home loss to the Saints.
Now, with Mitchell Trubisky back running the offense, the Bears have won three in a row, averaging 36.7 points per game in that stretch while allowing just 17 points per game in the three games.
Needless to say, the Bears have a lot to play for, trying to make the playoffs.
Needless to say, the Bears hate the Packers.
While Green Bay is the favorite, the Bears are a live underdog, with a real chance to win.
As for the Saints, they will be without Kwon Alexander, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Deonte Harris, Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, and likely Marcus Williams and Josh Hill against Carolina.
The depth of this excellent roster has truly been the story of the 2020 season for the Saints, built by Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton and Jeff Ireland.
The “next man up” cry has been anything but a cry for the Saints but more of a laugh. It has been a cry for the opposition as so many have stepped in and done the job when called on.
Getting the bye would give the Saints a great chance to reach the Super Bowl, playing just two games, both at home, if seeds hold, to get to Tampa Bay in February.
Getting the second seed would be important as well, to play at least two games at home with the chance that Green Bay could possibly be upset along the way.
If the Saints are seeded any lower than second, the chances of reaching the Super Bowl would be remote, to be certain.
The goal is to be playing your best football at the most important time of the season, the postseason.
That has not been the case the last two seasons.
Even though the Saints got jobbed, robbed in the loss to the Rams to end the 2018 season, New Orleans was not playing its best football of that season. That stretch came from the mid-point toward the end of the regular season.
Even though the Saints were good in 2019, winning 13 games, they were not playing their best football at the end of the season and injuries certainly did not help.
If the Saints could get a bye, they would likely have everyone back that is out right now, with the exception of Alexander, a key loss. The Saints defense improved measurably, noticeably after the arrival of Alexander. Alex Anzalone must step up and Zack Baun must contribute.
Without a bye, the Saints would likely get most of the walking wounded back but not all of them.
The scenario is clear.
Win at Carolina. Clinch at least the No. 2 seed.
With the Seahawks and Packers playing at the same time, everyone will be scoreboard watching Sunday afternoon and early evening.
By late evening, the expectation is that the Saints will have 12 wins and at least the second seed.
Don’t rule out the No. 1 seed. It can happen.
After all, it is 2021 with 2020 dead and buried, thank the good Lord!
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…