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The odds are stacked against the Saints making the playoffs. Will they be able to overcome?

New Orleans Saints
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

During the season, the Saints had a 5-2 record and was in second place behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for control of the NFC South. The Saints 5-2 record seems like a distant memory six weeks later. A lot has transpired since the emotional victory over Tampa Bay in Week 8. They have lost their starting QB in Jameis Winston for the remainder of the season. Star receiver Michael Thomas never stepped on the field due to suffering a setback because of the ankle surgery conducted in the summer.

Additional injuries to players such as Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Terron Armstead, Marcus Davenport, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson have severely impacted New Orleans to win football games.

Despite losing high-end players to injuries, the Saints remained competitive in games but have failed to close them out as winners. It has now gotten to a point where the chatter online is pointing towards how the team should prepare to compete next season. Buzz words such as “tanking” have always been used by the fans when a team is not competitive for a particular season.

The current version of the Saints has all the right ingredients to take on the infamous moniker of tanking for a higher pick. They are currently on a five-game losing streak, the first-ever in the Sean Payton era in New Orleans. The recent news of Cam Jordan and Mark Ingram testing positive for COVID-19, along with Deonte Harris’ three-game suspension, only adds more fuel to the fire on why folks think that the Saints 2021 season is over.

However, head coach Sean Payton and the veterans on the team will not allow New Orleans to become a team that will accept losing to increase their chances of a higher pick in the draft. As long as the Saints are mathematically alive for a playoff berth, they will fight until the opportunity no longer presents itself.
New Orleans has developed a culture dedicated to overcoming obstacles and any other setbacks that may hinder their success. If they went against those values, it could send a wrong message to the veterans on the roster.

As it stands now, the Saints are the 12th seed in the NFC playoff picture. Only seven teams can qualify for the postseason based on the new playoff structure introduced in 2020.  Clubs such as the Falcons, Vikings, Panthers, WFT, Eagles, and the 49ers are in front of the Saints regarding playoff seeding. Three out of the six mentioned teams have victories over the Saints this season. Those losses came against the Panthers, Eagles, and the Falcons.

Things will get a little more apparent as the season winds down. The best-case scenario for the Saints to have a realistic shot of advancing to the playoffs is to go 4-1 in their final five games of the season. Their overall record of finishing the year would be 9-8. However, being above .500 does not guarantee a playoff berth for New Orleans.

Teams such as the Panthers, Falcons, and Eagles have tie-breakers over the Saints because of their wins against the team. As previously stated, things will get more precise as the season moves forward. Carolina and Atlanta face each other in Week 14. The Saints will have their chance to avenge the Panthers and Falcons losses in back-to-back weeks to close out the year. New Orleans will continue to fight for a playoff berth despite the current circumstances until it is no longer within reach. They can get back on the winning side of things this Sunday when they take on the New York Jets.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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