There’s an overwhelming number of things the Saints and their fans are rooting for as this season comes to a close. On Monday night the bitter rival Atlanta Falcons come to town and one would think that a victory would be the only objective the Saints are focusing on. Not the case, though. Here are the six things the Saints are looking to accomplish by the end of week 17:
1. NFC South championship -
A win clinches the NFC South for the Saints. A loss, and the Saints will have to win at home against Carolina the following week to clinch the division. The only way the Falcons can win the division is to win out and for the Saints to lose out. If that happens, both teams will end up 11-5 and the Falcons would win the division by virtue of having a better NFC South record. So the Saints can make their life a lot easier by sealing the deal on Monday night, but if they don’t, the week 17 matchup against the Panthers will give them another shot at wrapping up the division. The Falcons’ week 17 opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in the Georgia Dome.
2. The #2 Seed – On top of rooting for a victory and the NFC South title, the Saints are also still very much alive in the hunt for a first round bye. They are currently tied record wise with the San Francisco 49ers, but the 49ers have a better NFC record, so the Saints will need to have one more win that the 9ers to claim the 2 seed. The 49ers are on the road the next two weeks @ Seattle and @ St. Louis. Players and fans will be rooting hard for the 49ers to slip up along the way as well.
3. Dan Marino’s Passing Record – Drew Brees is now just 304 yards away from breaking the record and barring something crazy it’s practically a foregone conclusion that he will do so. The only question is whether he will break Marino’s record in this Monday night game, or if he’ll have to finish off his needed yardage total the following week against the Panthers.
4. Drew Brees’ Completion Percentage Record – Drew Brees holds the NFL record for the highest completion percentage in a season in NFL history. That was in 2009 when he completed 70.62% of his passes. Right now, he sits at 71.5%, so he just needs to maintain that percentage and he even has a little wiggle room if necessary.
5. Kellen Winslow’s Most Receiving Yards by a Tight End – Kellen Winslow Sr. holds the record for most yards receiving by a tight end in a season in NFL history. He totalled 1,290 yards in 1980, so this is a record that’s stood for 31 years. Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham is 120 yards away from breaking that record, so he needs to average 60 yards per game receiving over the next two weeks to be the most productive tight end in one season in NFL history.
6. Revenge - Last but not least, I have not forgotten what happened last time these two teams met in New Orleans. The Falcons came into New Orleans and shocked the Saints 27-24 on route to winning the NFC South. Since then, these two teams have played twice in Atlanta with the Saints stealing 3 point wins in both affairs. This rivalry has had very intense close games in recent history, with the last 4 contests being decided by a 3 point difference. The Saints, despite these close games, have managed to win 5 of the last 6 face offs. The lone loss came in the Superdome last year, a loss that still stings to this day. Revenge will be on the mind of many, though fans and players need little extra motivation when it comes to this game.