Saints open playoffs next Sunday, leaving door open for Kamara return
The NFL announced the schedule for its “Super Wild Card” weekend Sunday night, and while a Week 17 trifecta could have earned the Saints a bye next weekend, it got the next best gift as a No. 2 seed – a Sunday game.
The Saints will play host to the Chicago Bears in an NFC wild card game at 3:40 p.m. Sunday, a matchup which will feature a pair of interesting television twists. But more on that in a moment.
That isn’t the big news for the Saints or their fan base. By the Saints being placed in one of the three Sunday slots instead of a Saturday date, it presumably leaves open the possible return of running back Alvin Kamara from COVID-19.
Kamara’s first positive test came last Thursday, Dec. 31. The 10th day following that test would be Sunday. A Saturday game would have left Kamara ineligible until the divisional round.
In an unusual step – believed to be the first time in NFL history – the game will be shown by CBS, which normally shows AFC games. The move apparently happened because this playoff slot is part of a separate package created as part of the process to grow the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams.
Additionally, as part of the bid process to grant CBS a second game on this weekend, the network agreed to also produce a live version of the game that will air on the Nickelodeon children’s network, a move targeted at growing the NFL’s younger fan base. Streaming for the game will be available through Amazon Prime.
The Saints (12-4) are facing the Bears (8-8) for the third time in the postseason, but the first in New Orleans.
Most recently, the teams met in the 2006 NFC Championship Game in the Windy City, won 39-14 by the Bears.
The Jan. 6, 1991 meeting – the 30th anniversary is this Wednesday – is remarkably similar to this year’s meeting.
The 1990 season marked an expansion from five to six teams per conference in the playoffs, much like the 2020 campaign has seen an expansion to seven teams per conference.
Like the Bears this year, the Saints grabbed the last playoff spot, also with an 8-8 record. While Chicago backed in after a loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Saints advanced in more dramatic fashion – a last-second field goal by Morten Andersen on New Year’s Eve night in the Superdome to close out a victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Saints are 9-12 all-time in the playoffs, including 4-6 in the Wild Card round.
Unlike in previous years, when the divisional weekend schedule was also announced with the wild card schedule, times and dates for those games will not be announced until the conclusion of the wild card games. If the Saints defeat Chicago, they would host a divisional game on Jan. 16 or 17.
The full “Super Wild Card” weekend schedule (times Central):
Saturday, January 9
Indianapolis at Buffalo, 12:05 p.m. (CBS)
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, 3:40 p.m. (FOX)
Tampa Bay at Washington or New York Giants, 7:15 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, January 10
Baltimore at Tennessee, 12:05 p.m. (ABC/ESPN/Freeform)
Chicago at New Orleans, 3:40 p.m. (CBS/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime)
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 7:15 p.m. (NBC)
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…