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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Good News And Bad News

There were little pieces of Fleur-de-Lis left all over CenturyLink Field on Monday Night, with the Seahawks shredding the Saints, 34-7. The game was over by halftime.


First and foremost, this game only counts once. It is the Saints first conference loss of the season. Their ominously long and imposing (and confidence boosting) home winning streak under Sean Payton, dating back three years) is still intact.

The Saints own all of the tiebreakers over all other NFC opponents under all circumstances (wild card race, division race, conference race). They control their destiny for a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. They host the Carolina Panthers, with whom they are tied for first place in the NFC South, this Sunday Night. Much like the Saints had the Seattle Seahawks 12th man working hard against them on Monday night, the Who Dat Nation will be in full effect, with an entire day to get lubed up and then let it out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

A win over the Panthers on Sunday will all but assure the Saints of the NFC South division championship, barring an injury to Drew Brees or serial carnage to key players. The Saints own the tiebreaker over the Panthers right now. With two of their three remaining games against the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints should (key word: "should") wrap up the division before their Week 16 road trip to Charlotte for their rematch with the Panthers.

Saints's like that!

The bad news is that the Saints have to play two of their next three games against the 9-3 Panthers. A Panthers sweep would assure the Saints of no better than a wild card berth in the NFC playoffs, meaning their road to the Super Bowl would all-but-certainly require three consecutive road wins. The Saints' franchise lifetime road playoff record? 0-5....

In addition, the Saints would have to travel to Seattle again for a rematch with the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. In other words, even IF the Saints win three of their next four games AND win their division AND clinch a first round bye AND beat their divisional round opponent - barring an upset of the Seahawks in Seattle (where the Seahawks have not lost in two years) by the Panthners, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Lions, or Bears (all inferior teams on paper) in the second round of the NFC playoffs - the Saints would have to travel back to Seattle and win to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Did I mention the Seahawks have not lost in Seattle in two years? Last home playoff loss? In 2004, with a 5-0 home playoff record since then.

Saints fans gave a hoot before, Cam Newton. 2

It can be fun to speculate over if this happens then that would happen. We can guess all day about the long-term impact of a single game on the outcome of the playoffs. The bottom line is that no team is bulletproof and the games are played on the field. The Saints need to win three of their next four game to have any reasonable chance of making it to the Super Bowl, given their personnel and their history under Sean Payton and Drew Brees.

Buckle your seat belt and get ready for a bumpy thrill ride, Who Dat Nation!

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