The New Orleans Saints won the NFC South divisional title last week, but they’re far from finished. The next goal in mind is securing a playoff bye, letting lesser teams duke it out in the wild card round while the Saints move a step closer to the Super Bowl.

Per the NFL’s algorithms, the Saints can do just that this week by defeating (or tying) the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football – and getting some help from the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers visit the 9-4 Chicago Bears this week, and if they can find a win or tie in Chicago, the Saints get the bye week.

It’s simple math. If the Saints improve to 12-2 or 11-2-1, and the Bears fall to 9-5 or 9-4-1, there won’t be enough games left on the schedule for Chicago to close the distance and steal a top-two seed from the Saints. But if the Saints lose outright, there’s still the potential for a late-season repositioning.

So, one more time. The Saints get that playoff bye in either of these two scenarios:

  • 1) Saints win and Bears lose or tie
  • 2) Saints tie and Bears lose

We’ll know going into the Panthers game on Monday night whether the Saints have a shot at locking in their bye week, thanks to the Bears-Packers kickoff at Soldier Field being scheduled for noon on Sunday. Have your fingers crossed in hope that the 5.5-point underdog Packers find a way to win.