Under a new coaching staff, the New Orleans Saints have become playoff contenders in the NFC. Behind the strength of Alvin Kamara and a suffocating defense, they’ve found themselves one spot out of the playoffs. In his second year as the starter, Trey Lance has had his role minimized to more of a game manager. The Saints aren’t asking him to win games for them, they’re asking him not to lose them. Kamara has been lights out in both the passing and rushing game, and the defense has been one of the hardest to move the ball against. Allowing the same PPG that they score, it’s no wonder that this team is hovering around .500. Most of their games are going to be a toss-up. They can compete with most of the teams in their conference, but without a strong passing attack, are going to struggle.
Now with only two games remaining, the Saints are extremely close to making the playoffs in their first season under new management. They have two games left that won’t be easy wins, but are winnable for sure. The Browns will either be playing for draft position or content points, while the Buccaneers will either be fighting to finish 16-0 or will rest their starters before the playoffs. The Saints control their destiny, but this final stretch could depend on which opponents show up. Cleveland has a chance to knock New Orleans out of the playoff race with an upset victory, and the Buccaneers game in week 17 could be what determines the Saints’ fate.
3. TE O. Howard; 26 rec, 487 yards, 177 yac, 3 TDs
Defensive Stat Leaders
1. LB D. White; 52 tackles
2. LB L. David; 40 tackles
1. OLB S. Barrett; 6 sacks
2. DT V. Vea; 13 tackles
1. SS H. Smith; 7 interceptions
2. CB C Davis III; 5 interceptions
1. LB D. White; 4 forced fumbles
2. LB Shaq Barrett; 2 forced fumbles
Passing offense rank: 15th (3044 yards)
Rushing offense rank: 10th (1633 yards)
Passing defense rank: 16th (3003 yards)
Rushing defense rank: 11th (1332 yards)
Points scored per game: 3rd (39 ppg)
Points allowed per game: 3rd (22 ppg)
The Buccaneers are the biggest surprise of the entire league this season. Nobody could have expected rookie QB sensation Sam Howell to slip out of the top 10 of the draft, let alone win his first 12 starts in a row with the Buccaneers. The Buccs have always had a phenomenal roster with superstars at every position of the offense and defense, but Tom Brady hasn’t been able to get the success from this roster in the same way Sam Howell has in his first season. He isn’t doing it alone though as the rushing attack has allowed this offense to stay balanced, and the most important thing they’ve done is turn the ball over the fewest number of times in the entire league. The defense is equally as scary, and the real reason they’re undefeated and can make it to the super bowl, only allowing 22 points per game through 12 games this season.
The only undefeated team in the NFC. With the AFC South already clinched up and a couple games away from clinching the #1 seed, it’ll be interesting to see how Tampa Bay treats the end of their regular season. Will they rest their starters to prepare for a super bowl run, or will they play normally to try and maintain their momentum going into the playoffs?
The Falcons were one of the 2 tougher cap situations dealt to our users and ended up not andeling it the best. They traded away a few of their good players hoping to hit on draft picks and that wasn’t the case which hurt them in the long run. The Falcons are well coached but they’re just pretty inconsistent in late game situations that cost them big time. They have a top rushing attack with 2 #1 receivers so if you can’t win with that obviously their qb isn’t the guy. Beating the undefeated Giants at the time but then beating the 1 win Rams by a Td is the type of inconsistency during the season I’m talking about. It was just a tough season overall with the playoffs looking like a long shot along with going 0-5 in the division
Sitting at 6-7 the Falcons are only 1 game back but for some reason it feels like more than that. If they can figure out some recipe for success and stop turning the ball over I feel like they can compete with anybody so it’s not out of reach. Their final 2 games are against 2 opponents fighting for seeding in the afc/nfc so it won’t be easy. They’ll need to win out and get some help if they want a shot but it’s definitely capable so this finish for the nfc wildcat spot will be a good one.
Season summary: High hopes in Carolina have started to fade. After winning 4 games in a row early in the season, the Panthers have gone 2 and 5 since and are now on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. The Commish has built a solid team, but still can’t quite get over the hump when it comes to consistently winning virtual football games. Its not over yet, but the Panthers will need to win at least 2 of their last 3 games to have a shot at the tournament.
Playoff outlook: Currently the Panthers are 9th in the NFC, 2 spots out of the final Wildcard. In order to sneak into the postseason they will need to win 2 of their last 3 games. That will be tough as they will face off against the undefeated Buccs, a resurgent Lions team, and a garbage ass front running Steeler squad.