Saints are third in line for NFC’s sixth playoff spot

By Chris Cluff  |   Thursday, December 27, 2007  |  Comments( 0 )

New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints made it a lot harder than it had to be. First there was the 0-4 start to the season that handicapped them from the first month on. And then their inability to get any kind of a streak going or to win close games left them in a bad spot entering the final week of the season.

After a loss to Philadelphia last Sunday, the Saints (7-8) now find themselves as the third option for the sixth playoff spot in the NFC, and they are hoping they can somehow squeeze in with a little help from Dallas and Denver.

In order for that to happen, the Saints must win in Chicago (did they see what the Bears did to Green Bay in the freezing wind at Soldier Field last Sunday?) and hope Dallas beats Washington while Denver knocks off Minnesota.

The Saints are doubly motivated because they lost to Chicago in the NFC title game last season, but even a win might not be good enough to get them in. That's because they couldn't quite complete the rally from the 0-4 start, losing tough games against Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Eagles. So now they need help.

"We have a legitimate shot at the playoffs," right tackle Jon Stinchcomb told reporters. "Things have to happen, but that's not uncommon. Plus, there's motivation in that this is the team that put us out last year."

The Saints sat in the same spot in 2004, when they won their final game (in Carolina) only to see the St. Louis Rams win in overtime and keep the Saints out.

"We got the must-win and sat back and hoped for some help and couldn't get it," fullback Mike Karney said. "It was tough to take."

Just as this weekend figures to be.

The Saints probably will face the Bears without any of their top three running backs. Deuce McAllister (knee) has been out for most of the season, Reggie Bush (knee) has been hobbled for the past few weeks and Aaron Stecker (toe) seems doubtful for this game, too. If Bush and Stecker are both out, undrafted rookie Pierre Thomas would start. The Saints also are without top cornerback Mike McKenzie, which means a bad defense just got worse.

But, hey, they have a chance, and that's all they need.

"We can only win this game and come back home," Karney said. "Hopefully, when the wheels hit the ground, we'll have some good news."
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About Chris Cluff

Chris Cluff spent 10 years as an editor and sportswriter for The Seattle Times. He was a key figure in the newspaper's coverage of the Seahawks, particularly during their Super Bowl run in 2005. He also has written two books on the Seahawks: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Heart-Pounding,...
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