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News » Saints have uphill climb for playoffs


Saints have uphill climb for playoffs


Saints have uphill climb for playoffs
Thanks to a rare two-game winning streak and three wins in their last four outings, the once-wobbling New Orleans Saints are still in the NFC playoff picture with five games to play.


But another misstep or two could mean the end of their hopes and dreams which began way back in mid-March when they started their offseason program.

While things are muddled in the NFC South, with two games separating the four teams, we'll know a lot more about where the Saints stand on the night of Dec. 7.

By then, the Saints will have played back-to-back division games against Tampa Bay (Sunday at Raymond James Stadium) and Atlanta (one week later in the Superdome), and some of the smoke will have cleared.

With the NFC East likely to grab at least one of the two wildcards available in the conference, the Saints and the NFC South co-leaders - Carolina and Tampa Bay - and Atlanta and New Orleans could be fighting for two playoff berths.

Here's what awaits each of them as they head down the stretch:

TAMPA BAY (8-3 OVERALL, 2-1 NFC SOUTH): Remaining games (combined record 28-27): New Orleans, at Carolina, at Atlanta, San Diego, Oakland.

Outlook: Like the Saints, the Bucs will know a lot more when they finish a three-game trek through the division on Dec. 14. If they get through that by winning two of three games, they'll be sitting pretty and will likely win the division considering their final two games are against San Diego and Oakland.

CAROLINA (8-3, 2-2): Remaining (combined record 35-20): at Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Denver, at New York Giants , at New Orleans.

Outlook: The Panthers have the toughest road of the four NFC South rivals as they have to face five teams that are in playoff contention with three of them on the road. That's not a good sign considering they have had some tough times recently even though they won five games in a row before the streak was snapped last week.

ATLANTA (7-4, 2-2): Remaining (combined record 26-29): at San Diego, at New Orleans, Tampa Bay, at Minnesota, St. Louis.

Outlook: The Falcons have to be feeling good about themselves after trouncing the Saints and Panthers in a three-week span after losing their first two NFC South games. But they can't afford to get too giddy with three of their final five games being played on the road, where they are just 2-3 this season.

NEW ORLEANS (6-5, 1-2): Remaining (combined record 29-27): at Tampa Bay, Atlanta, at Chicago, at Detroit, Carolina.

Outlook: The Saints probably have to win their next two games to stay in the hunt, but then they have to go to Chicago on a short week for a Thursday night game. Their inability to string any wins together early in the season will come back to haunt them if they can't win the next three games.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

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