With the team’s recent run without Drew Brees, it appears as if the one seed in the NFC is the New Orleans Saints to lose.
When Drew Brees went down with a torn ligament in his thumb in Week 2 the sky appeared to be falling for the New Orleans Saints. Brees is the foundation and the pulse of this team and having him out for six weeks was a disaster for the Saints’ playoff seeding.
It was especially concerning considering the Saints were facing two NFC playoff teams from a year ago in the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys. However, the team was able to get the job done against both teams with Teddy Bridgewater under center and moved to 4-1 on the season with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was still likely that the Saints were going to be a playoff team with Brees missing some time, but now, Saint fans are looking at that first seed in the NFC that they had last season to get a first-round bye as well as home-field advantage through the NFC Championship.
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Everything has been going right for the Saints in that regard as well. The Los Angeles Rams have dropped two in a row, both against NFC teams, and Jared Goff is looking particularly shaky without his running game.
The Chicago Bears suffer from the same quarterback issue and dropped to 3-2 with an ugly loss against the Oakland Raiders and should have lost against the Denver Broncos as well.
The San Francisco 49ers are the only undefeated team in the NFC but have had a fairly easy slate so far that gets very tough down the stretch, especially with a game against the Saints in New Orleans.
It isn’t any of those teams that pose the biggest threat to taking the number one seed. It isn’t the 4-1 Seattle Seahawks, either. It is the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, who have exceed expectations thus far this season.
The Packers are 3-1 thus far against NFC teams with wins over the Cowboys, Bears, Vikings and a loss to the Eagles. The team also has a win over the Denver Broncos.
Aaron Rodgers finally appears to have a defense and has a running game to complement the passing attack. They went into Dallas this past week and routed the Cowboys, a team that the Saints beat by two at home (albeit without their starting quarterback).
They have the experienced starting quarterback that is oh-so important that actually has a good supporting cast and a refreshing head coach. The most worrisome part? The Packers have a very winnable schedule if they are as good as they have shown through five weeks.
They have three should-be guaranteed wins remaining in the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and New York Giants. That moves their record to 7-1.
They then have five games that they absolutely should win if they are as good as advertised. These games are not guaranteed wins like the previous three, but at worst, the Packers should go 4-1 in two games against the Detroit Lions, a game against the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.
That moves the team up to 11-2, with the last three games being the most impactful. They have a road game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a road game against the Los Angeles Chargers and a road game against the San Francisco 49ers.
It is hard luck for them that all three of those games are at home but they should be able to beat both the Chargers and 49ers. If they don’t, then they are not first-seed caliber and will lose some of the other games as mentioned.
However, if they continue to roll into these games then they should win at least two of the three, giving them a final record of 13-3, which is absolutely good enough to be the first seed.
They even have a potential game for error as the New Orleans Saints could easily still finish with a 12-4 record. If they lose two of their last three without Brees then a 12-4 record is likely a formality.
So if you are going to watch any team closely aside from the New Orleans Saints, I would watch the Green Bay Packers to get an idea of where the Saints will finish seeding-wise in the playoffs.