NEW YORK — For three years, the New Orleans Saints have spent December fighting for playoff seeding.
Home-field advantage never was out of the question and neither was a deep run.
When the Saints take on the New York Giants today at 3:25 p.m., however, it’s a whole new world.
A post-apocalyptic one some Saints fans might even say.
New Orleans (5-7) is fighting not for seeding. Instead, it’s fighting just to get in the postseason tournament.
This year, the Saints don’t even control their own destiny.
“We obviously recognize the seriousness of the situation,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “But at the same time, it’s a game. If you don’t prepare for every game in that fashion, then there’s something wrong. Really all we’re doing is continuing in our preparation with the same way we would, which should be like it’s a playoff game. And then let the rest play out.”
If there’s any franchise to look at, the Saints should stare straight across the field at MetLife Stadium. The Giants (7-5) were 9-7 heading into the playoffs in 2011 but had to win in December to get there. Everyone knows what happened after that – Eli Manning led the Blue Men to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Patriots.
Still, the 0-4 start all but destroyed the Saints and losses in the past two games took away all control. New Orleans would need to finish the month undefeated just to get to 9-7.
“It is (different),” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “This position is no fun to be in, because you feel like other people control your destiny. You always want to be in position where you’re the one who’s writing his own ticket."
Brees added, “There are many teams in the past that have been through situations where they have to win down the stretch and need some things to happen and sneak in. If you win four in a row going into the playoffs, you’re obviously playing some good football and that’s our goal.”
So, for now, New Orleans can only take things as the cliché goes – one game at a time.
That starts today with the Giants, a team New Orleans has mastered in its past two meetings, including a 49-24 win over New York in 2011.
“But like every week you can only play the game that’s next and this is the next one,” Saints right guard Jahri Evans said. “You put a good body of work together during the week to execute your game plan and come out with a W. That’s our game plan going into this week and going into all our games that has been our game plan.”