NEW ORLEANS — Things have become pretty simple for the New Orleans Saints playoff chances this season.
To secure a fifth straight playoff berth the Saints need to beat the Falcons Sunday in Atlanta in a game that has been moved to a 3:25 p.m. CST kickoff. And, the Saints need another hated rival, the Los Angeles Rams, to defeat San Francisco. That game will also kick off at 3:25 p.m. CST.
A loss by both the Saints and 49ers would give the final playoff spot to the Niners. San Francisco is 9-7 on the season to date. The Saints are 8-8.
If those two things happen, the Saints reward would likely be - a playoff game in Los Angeles against those Rams a week later.
The confounding Saints season has seen them win four games against three of the top teams in the entire league - Tampa Bay (twice), Green Bay and New England, while losing fourth quarter leads to the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons at home.
The Saints are also only 2-5 in the Caesars Superdome, 1-0 on a neutral field and 5-3 on the road.
And, in a reversal of form in the Sean Payton era, the team is one of the worst offensively in the league but one of the better defensive units.
Losses of 3 of the team's 5 starting offensive linemen, along with the starting quarterback and the season-long loss of former Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas, has had the team limping along, using 4 different starting quarterbacks.
The defense, meanwhile, has stayed relatively healthy and Cam Jordan is playing some of the best defense of his career while Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander lead the linebackers, Marcus Davenport has made a big impression on the line and the secondary, led by Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams and CJ Gardner-Johnson, have given top QBs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers fits.