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Saints playoff path forward takes unexpected turn with Falcons’ win

Saints Wire logo Saints Wire 1/7/2018 K.D. Drummond

Saints playoff path forward takes unexpected turn with Falcons' win: Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and players on the sideline celebrate a game winning kick in overtime against the Washington Redskins of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Redskins 34-31 in overtime. © Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and players on the sideline celebrate a game winning kick in overtime against the Washington Redskins of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Redskins 34-31 in overtime. There's only one thing that matters right now, figuring out a way to take down the Carolina Panthers for the third time in the last four months. Sweeping a team is hard enough in the NFL. Taking a team down three times during the same year, the task sitting right in front of the New Orleans Saints, is something some may feel is the most difficult ask in the league. That's exactly what the Saints will have to do to advance, and the matchup will be the final of the four wild card games this weekend.

If New Orleans is able to advance, however, their path to return to the glory achieved in 2009 took an interesting twist on Saturday.

When the Atlanta Falcons took out the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Rams, the dynamics of the NFC playoffs changed. In the NFL playoffs, the top two seeds from each conference are granted a bye the first week of the playoffs. After the wild card round plays out, the lowest of the remaining seeds travels to the No. 1 team, and the No. 2 team hosts the other squad.

When the chalk holds, and the No. 3 and No. 4 team advance, the No. 4 team travels to play the No. 1 seed. It's supposed to be the harder of the two draws, giving the team who achieved the best record a supposed easier matchup.

However this year, the NFC's No. 1 team hardly resembles the best team in the conference entering the playoffs. Philadelphia lost their MVP-candidate quarterback Carson Wentz late in the season. Although they were able to secure home-field advantage, they were a shell of themselves. Not only has Nick Foles been unable to duplicate Wentz's success, but their defensive secondary has become a major question mark as well.

They appear, on the surface, to be an easier draw than No. 2 seeded Minnesota Vikings.

That was the path for the Saints originally. If the chalk held, New Orleans would've found themselves traveling to Philadelphia if they were able to defeat Carolina.

However, with the Falcons' convincing 26-13 upset win, they have locked in the first NFC matchup. As the No. 6 seed, they will be the lowest remaining team and will be the team traveling to take on the vulnerable Eagles.

If New Orleans can pull off the threep, they will be rewarded with the most difficult matchup, traveling to Minnesota.

There is a bright side though, if the Saints can somehow manage to earn two victories over the next two weeks.

There being a team remaining that is a lower seed than them, opens up the possibility that the Saints could in fact host the NFC championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

If the Saints get through the Panthers and get their revenge for a Week 1 loss against Minnesota, and the Falcons use their playoff experience to escape Phildelphia, New Orleans would be the highest seed remaining. The highest seed hosts.

Wouldn't that be something.

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