Remember this: It's never OK not to cheer against the New Orleans Saints. It's just that in this wacky week-to-week playoff march in the NFL, your ire is sometimes more worthwhile than other times - like this week, it's purely for the bathtub hooch buzz of watching the league's prom queen eat some curb, and not for any legitimate playoff strategy:
- Not much changes after Sunday's Saints/Vikings affair in Minnesota. If the Saints win, they'll stay on pace to win the NFC South but can't clinch it outright. If the Vikes win (do it for Brett, guys), the Saints can still win the South (fairly easily, too) by beating Atlanta and Carolina, and both games are at home.
- For the Falcons to win the NFC South, they'll need to win out (at New Orleans, vs. Tampa Bay) to finish 11-5 and have the Saints lose out to finish 10-6. If the teams both finish 11-5, the Saints will need to lose their season finale vs. Carolina in order to give the Falcons the tiebreaker on division records. See how little the Vikings matter?
- The likeliest scenario for the Falcons is a wild card berth playing at the NFC East winner. Take your pick (and in forthcoming bloggage, we'll certainly do the same) between the injury-ravaged yet inexplicably hot Giants (at home vs. Washington) or the LULZ Cowboys (at Tampa Bay tonight).
- SPITE / FEAR ALERT: The Saints are still in the running to capture a first round bye and a home game as the No. 2 seed. If both 10-3 New Orleans and 10-3 San Francisco win out, the Saints will take the No. 2 slot on their conference record. The Saints still have Atlanta, and San Francisco hosts Pittsburgh Monday night.