1) Cardinals (4-5) @ Falcons (8-1): Falcons
. As much as it pains me to say it, the Falcons have the division locked up and it's best they defeat all other NFC teams. NO DICE
2) Browns (2-7) @ Cowboys (4-5): Browns
. No brainer here. An AFC team beating a 4-5 Cowboys team at home would be very nice for us. SUCCESS!
3) Packers (6-3) @ Lions (4-5): Packers
. This is up for some debate, but I would rather the Packers go ahead and win their division (I think with Cutler out with a concussion, they stand the best chance to take the NFC North anyway). A loss by the 4-5 Lions would help to eliminate one more team fighting with New Orleans for a potential wildcard slot. SUCCESS!
4) Jets (3-6) @ Rams (3-5-1): Jets
. Another no brainer. Not that the Rams pose a serious playoff threat, but losing to an AFC team would probably kill their chances altogether at a post-season berth. NO DICE
5) Eagles (3-6) @ Redskins (3-6): Eagles
. While both teams share the same record and division, we own the tiebreaker vs. Philadelphia. With Washington beating us in Week 1, they would be more likely to beat us out in a tie breaker scenario. NO DICE
6) Buccaneers (5-4) @ Panthers (2-7): Panthers
. This is a hugely critical game, as Carolina could blunt Tampa's momentum and bring them to .500. We need Tampa to drop another game or two and must beat them in the Dome on December 16th.
7) Bears (7-2) @ 49ers (6-2-1): 49ers
. Unfortunately, both these teams are likely to make the playoffs at this point so either team winning this game could help or hurt the Saints. But I would bet the 49ers are more a lock to win their division over Seattle than the Bears are to win theirs over Green Bay. With that in mind, it would be better for the 49ers to go ahead and win their division and hope the Bears stumble without Cutler.
NOTE: I did not analyze AFC vs. AFC match ups, as they have no bearing on the Saints' playoff chances.
This post was edited on 11/18 at 4:02 pm