New Orleans Saints Could Decide NFC West Race
Oct 27, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Buffalo Bills prior to a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to NFL playoff races there is a great deal of talk about controlling one’s own destiny. A team that controls its own destiny does not need to rely on any external events to win its own division or make the playoffs, but can rather do so by simply winning the games in front of them. You could say that at this moment the Seahawks control their own destiny. If this team wins the remainder of its games then it will win the division and home field advantage in the playoffs. However, nine straight wins is too much to ask, even for a team of this caliber. In all likelihood there will be some external events that affect Seattle’s chances of winning this division. Although this team disposed of the 49ers with relative ease in Week 2, San Francisco remains only half a game back (one game if the Seahawks win tonight) in the division and a loss at San Francisco in Week 14 could put everything back to square one. It is fairly likely that at least one team takes another loss by then but looking at the schedule it’s fairly forgiving:
Vs. Tampa Bay
At New Orleans
Vs. New Orleans
Vs. St. Louis
At San Francisco
At New York Giants
At Tampa Bay
Vs. St. Louis
Both the 49ers and Seahawks only face one truly stout test before facing each other: The New Orleans Saints. The Saints sit at 6-1 and are every bit the elite team that the two big NFC West powers are. With a revamped defense this team has reached the next level and presents a real threat for the top seed in the NFC. Here’s a brief comparison between the three squads:
|Team||Record||Points For/G||Points Against/G||Point Differential/G||Yards for/G||Yards Against/G||Yardage Differential/G||Turnover|
When you look at it this way it appears that the Seahawks and Saints are neck in neck and the 49ers are a step behind but all three teams are in the running for the title of best team in the NFC. The Seahawks could go to San Francisco and beat them again to lay claim to the division, but given that’s far from a guarantee it looks like the Saints could have a big role to play.
The big difference between the 49ers game against the Saints and Seattle’s is the choice of venue. The 49ers have to travel to New Orleans, where the Saints are 4-0, and deal with that offense in a climate controlled environment. The Seahawks get the Saints within the friendly confines of the greatest fortress in football, the CLink. If the Seahawks beat the Saints and the 49ers lose to them, which is probably most likely scenario, Seattle could be up by two games going into their divisional game against the 49ers. That would give them a safety net even if they can’t beat San Francisco on the road, which is a tall task. Additionally, a win against the Saints could really set the Hawks on track for home field advantage in the NFC playoffs, something that would mean the world to this team. The December 8th matchup against the 49ers may be the game that everyone is circling on their calendars, but the real must-win game might be a week earlier against New Orleans.