The New Orleans Saints are back in the playoffs for a third consecutive year, amassing their most wins since 2011.
The Saint polished off a 13-3 season on Sunday with a dominant 42-10 win over the Panthers. Drew Brees led the way with a trio of touchdowns, but the NFC South champs were still in wait-and-see mode following the matchup because they needed help for a first round bye.
Green Bay started slow against the lowly Detroit Lions, but came back to secure a 23-20 victory. The Packers will have at minimum a first-round bye and can lock up the top seed with a San Francisco loss on Sunday Night Football against the Seahawks.
The Saints can still slide up to the No. 2 seed and gain a first-round bye if the Niners lose to the Seahawks. They’ll face the Seahawks if Seattles manages a win against their NFC West rival at home.
The Saints 40-year-old quarterback Brees would enjoy not having to play another game as he searches for his second Super Bowl.
“You just don’t have to play an additional game and have the exposure from that,” Brees told reporters this week. “You would hate to lose somebody by having to play another game [in the playoffs. Getting that week rest, I feel like, is a huge benefit.”
The Saints beat the Seahawks 33-27 back on Sept. 22 without the services of Brees, who was recovering from a thumb injury.
The Wild Card round will take place Jan. 4-5. Game dates and times have yet to be announced.
This post will be updated when results are final and schedules are announced.
Saints First to Punch Ticket to Postseason
The Saints were bounced from the playoffs last year by the Rams in a game that will be remembered for a controversial no-call on an obvious pass interference penalty.
New Orleans was the first team to clinch a playoff berth, knocking of the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day.
“This was objective No. 1, obviously: win the division,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees told reporters after the victory. “But I think you know our mindset and the group of guys we have in there and just kind of how we’ve progressed each and every year. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, so to speak.”
Drew Brees Propelling Saints Into the Playoffs
Brees has gone for over 250 yards in his last four games heading into the postseason and has a 15-0 touchdown to interception ratio.
He broke the all-time passing touchdown record on Monday Night Football in Week 15 against the Colts.
“It was special. Everything about tonight,” Brees said. “We’re playing the Colts, a team that we won the Super Bowl against 10 years ago. The whole Super Bowl 44 team was back for the 10th anniversary, and obviously national television. It just makes you shake your head. It kind of makes your whole life and career flash before your eyes because I never thought I would have the chance to be a part of something like this.”
His top target Michael Thomas has been pretty good too. He broke Marvin Harrison’s 2002 record of 143 catches in a single season, finishing with 149.
“That’s insane,” Saints tight end Jared Cook told reporters when asked about Thomas’ accomplishment. “It is something I might not ever see again in his lifetime and a lot of people will not. He still has another game to continue balling out to extend that record.”