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UPDATED PLAYOFF PICTURE: Saints Remain Among NFL “Elite” With 6 Games Left

The New Orleans Saints have now won 8 straight games in a row, and remained one of the NFL's "elite" teams as the League's 11th week of the 2017 regular season has concluded.

New Orleans (8-2) remained near the very top of the National Football Conference playoff race with regard to the current seeding, as they have entered into the "meat and potatoes" portion of their 2017 season schedule, with just 6 games remaining.

The Saints remained as the #3 seed in the NFC; after their heart-stopping and thrilling come-from-behind 34-31 overtime win at home over the Washington Redskins yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

New Orleans was also the #3 seed last week, and remained so when both the two teams ahead of them — the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings — also won their games as well.

The Saints have an identical (6-1) conference record as the Vikings do; but remain just slightly behind (8-2) Minnesota due to a tie-breaker (Minnesota defeated New Orleans head-to-head back in Week #1).

Both the Vikings and the Saints remain a game behind the #1 seed Philadelphia Eagles; who are (9-1) overall but are undefeated (7-0) in the NFC. The Eagles dismantled the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 37-9.

If the season were to end today: both the Eagles and the Vikings, would have 1st Round byes. 

Meanwhile as the #3 seed, the Saints would host a Wild Card game at the Superdome against their hated arch-rivals, the Atlanta Falcons.

With that in mind, here's the VERY LATEST update and breakdown of the current NFC Playoff picture as things stand right now going into Week #12 of the NFL 2017 regular season schedule, for your New Orleans Saints......

 

NFC

No. 1 seed — Eagles (9-1): 1st place, NFC East

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

The conference's top team, Philadelphia virtually destroyed their hated NFC East division rivals the Dallas Cowboys last night on NBC Sunday Night Football.

The Eagles now have opened up a 4-game lead on the Cowboys, and have essentially CLINCHED their division already with 6 games still left to play.

Barring a total collapse, the Eagles are on "cruise control" at this point; and the only thing they're fighting for now is the #1 seed in the Playoffs against Minnesota and the Saints.

 

No. 2 seed — Vikings (8-2): 1st place, NFC North

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Minnesota won its 6th game in a row yesterday with what was probably their most impressive performance of the season, against the Rams, to remain a game behind the Eagles for the top seed in the conference,

They also managed to maintain a 2-game division lead over the Lions, a team that beat them earlier in the season.

The rematch is this Thursday on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, in what promises to be one of the more interesting Thanksgiving Day games in the past few years; since the (6-4) Lions also still have Playoff aspirations with 6 games left to play in the 2017 regular season.

 

No. 3 seed — Saints (8-2): 1st place, NFC South

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

In one of the most improbable comebacks in the team's entire 51-year history, New Orleans came roaring back with their backs against the wall and their 3rd loss seemingly imminent, to defeat long-time NFC nemesis Washington by a score of 34-31 in overtime.

At one point, the Saints were 15 points behind with only 3 minutes left on the game clock; but made up all of the point unanswered points before the end of regulation in what some believe may have been a win of destiny similar to some of the signature wins during the franchise's iconic 2009 Super Bowl winning-season 8 years ago.

It was the first time in Saints history that they had ever come back from a 14-point deficit in the 4th quarter of a game regular season or otherwise, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Next up is a trip to Los Angeles this Thanksgiving Weekend to play the still-dangerous Rams; which will then be followed by back-to-back NFC South divisional games in successive weeks against the Panthers and the Falcons as the Saints have now reached the toughest part of their entire 2017 schedule.

 

No. 4 seed — Rams (7-3): 1st place, NFC West

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

In somewhat of a surprise, Los Angeles when into Minneapolis yesterday and got absolutely SPANKED by the Vikings; which means that the Rams will now have to be rooting for Seattle to lose tonight at home to Atlanta, in order to keep the NFC West Division lead.

If the Seahawks are somehow able to win tonight despite all of their injuries, then it will actually drop the Rams down two spots to the 6th and final seed going into Week #12

The Rams as we noted are hosting the Saints this weekend in Los Angeles, but likely are already looking ahead to their home game 2 weeks later (December 10th) against the Eagles; in a game that more than likely could end up having a direct impact on who the 2 top seeds in the NFC will eventually be.

 

No. 5 seed — Panthers (7-3): 2nd place, NFC South

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

The Panthers (7-3) yesterday were on a Bye Week, and are now a full game behind the Saints in the NFC South division.

The December 3rd game in 2 more weeks from now at the Superdome vs. the Saints is looming large now for both teams; as the outcome of that game could have a direct bearing on whichever team becomes the eventual winner of the NFC South Division title.

As it is, the Panthers still have another game left with Atlanta on New Year's Eve, in yet another game that could have Playoff implications for the rest of the teams within the NFC playoff race.

 

No. 6 seed — Falcons (6-4), 3rd Place NFC South

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

After a very shaky 4-4 start, the Falcons seemed to have righted the ship and won again last night on ESPN Monday Night Football, hanging on to pick up a critical 34-31 NFC victory over fellow Playoff contender Seattle on the road.

The Falcons would be the 3rd of 3 NFC South teams to qualify for the Playoffs if things were to remain the same from here on out, but their schedule will ultimately determine that.

The Falcons' last 4 games of the season are ALL NFC South Divisional games: home against the Saints on Thursday Night Football (December 7th), at Tampa Bay (December 18th), at the Saints on Christmas Eve (December 24th), and at home against the Panthers on New Years's Eve (December 31st).

 

 

Who's right behind: Lions (6-4), Seahawks (6-4), Cowboys (5-5), Packers (5-5), Redskins (4-6), Cardinals (4-6), Buccaneers (4-6)

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Detroit has now emerged as a legitimate threat for the 6th and final NFC Wild Card spot after their divisional win yesterday in Chicago, and they have the easiest remaining schedule among themselves, the Falcons, and Cowboys.

Seattle's loss last night to the Falcons hurt their chances to make it as a Wild Card, but they can still get in by beating the Rams once again and winning the NFC West Division when the two teams meet up in Seattle on December 17th.

 

Who's just about done and out of it: Bears (3-7), Giants (2-8), 49ers (1-9)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Giants upset the Chiefs for only their 2nd win of the year, and may have at least saved head coach Ben McAdoo's job until the season's over.

They stayed a game ahead of the 49ers; who were on the Bye this week and at this point are already making plans for next April's 2018 NFL Draft.......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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