The New Orleans Saints clinched a playoff spot on Monday Night Football beating the Atlanta Falcons but also made our NFL playoff picture potentially a little more messy. Despite Atlanta's dominance for much of the season, the Saints can still catch them and become the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Here's how: Next week, the Saints beat the Bucs and the Falcons lose to the Panthers. A Falcons loss combined with a Saints victory could give New Orleans the division, the top seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bears and Eagles would also be involved for the top seed in this scenario. That would drop the Falcons all the way to the fifth seed which means in two short weeks, they'd go from top dogs to fifth seed going on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Saints, Carolina's the worst team in the NFL. It seems very unlikely that the Falcons, who have played very well all year, would lose to them. Of course, no one thought the Bengals would beat the nine point favorite Chargers pushing the Chiefs into the playoffs either.
So early predictions will be that the Falcons remain with the No. 1 seed and the Saints get the fifth seed.
The question moving forward for the Falcons, assuming they beat Carolina, is just how good they are. They've now lost to both New Orleans and Philadelphia -- arguably the top two teams in the NFC -- and are just 4-3 against playoff teams. They're good but....how good?