Friday, December 4, 2009

Saints Nation: The Quest For Homefield Advantage

The Saints are now one win away or one Atlanta Falcon loss away from winning the NFC South. For the Saints to lose out and the Falcons to win out seems like nothing short of a miracle; so since it seems we've wrapped up the division, it's time to start shifting the focus to larger goals. The Saints are currently 11-0 with the Vikings hot on their heels at 10-1. Next in line are the 8-3 Cowboys and the 7-4 Cardinals. This weekend's game against the Redskins is actually an important one, because a slip up could prove costly. Let's go ahead an assume the Cardinals aren't going to catch the Saints, so here is what the remaining schedule looks like for the current top 3 NFC teams:

Saints schedule:
@ Redskins (3-8)
@ Falcons (6-5)
vs. Cowboys (8-3)
vs. Buccaneers (1-10)
@ Panthers (4-7)

Vikings schedule:
@ Cardinals (7-4)
vs. Bengals (8-3)
@ Panthers (4-7)
@ Bears (4-7)
vs. Giants (6-5)

Cowboys schedule:
@ Giants (6-5)
vs. Chargers (8-3)
@ Saints (11-0)
@ Redskins (3-8)
vs. Eagles (7-4)

At first glance the most brutal of these 3 schedules appears to be the Cowboys'. In 4 out of their 5 games they'll face teams that are desperate for a win in attempts to improve their playoff chances/seeding. I think it's safe to assume the game @ Atlanta for the Saints could be a very tough one because the Falcons are hanging on to dear life for a wild card spot, and the Saints have really struggled in the Georgia Dome in recent years. This is what makes this weekend's Redskins game so important. If the Cowboys find a way to win two straight going into New Orleans, and the Saints somehow drop 2 straight, then the Cowboys would have a chance to tie records AND own the tiebreaker. While the scenario isn't very likely, it's not impossible. So the Saints need to take care of business and win against the Redskins, first and foremost.

As far as the Vikings, their only loss is to an AFC team (Steelers). This means that if they win out and the Saints finish 15-1 as well, the Vikings will have home field advantage. The Saints have completed their AFC schedule which means that if they were to lose it would be to an NFC team, giving the Vikings the tie breaker. The good news is the Vikings play @ Arizona and against Cincinnati over the next two weeks, two very tough teams. As Saints fans we need to root for them to lose one of those, if not both. That would go a LONG way to helping us out. Finishing 16-0 is the only way the Saints can GUARANTEE they'll get homefield advantage, which would be stressful and pressure filled not only from a seeding standpoint but also from a historical one as well. Only one team has ever gone 16-0 in NFL history (Patriots in 2007). Otherwise, if the Saints drop ANY of their last five games, we'll need some help from the Vikings losing as well. The bottom line is this: If the Saints and Vikings have the same record, the Vikings own the tiebreaker. So we need to stay one game ahead of them. The more losses they get, the better. It's time to start rooting against the Vikings every single weekend. Of course, having the Cowboys lose one of their next two games wouldn't hurt either, but if we beat them in the SuperDome then they won't be able to catch us for a first round bye.

So from now on it's no longer Geaux Saints, it's Geaux Saints and Geaux anyone playing the Vikings/Cowboys.