Ranking the New Orleans Saints potential Wildcard opponents


Assuming the New Orleans Saints win the NFC South, they will host a wildcard playoff game in the Superdome. Of the seven NFC teams in the hunt, who can the Saints most likely defeat in round one? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in today’s NFL TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.


I’m beginning this with the premise that the Atlanta Falcons are not going to win the NFC South. They are an atrociously coached football team with some good skill position players and little else. With games remaining against Green Bay, Pittsburgh and at New Orleans, their season is over, and Mike Smith should be fired before it even comes to that.

The New Orleans Saints are going to enter the playoffs at something ranging from 7-9 to 9-7, as the champions of the NFC South division and the fourth seed. They will host the better of the two wildcard teams.

At this point, that team could be anybody: Green Bay, Detroit, Philly, Dallas, Arizona, Seattle or even San Fran.

My question is who would the Saints have a chance of defeating in the playoffs if they were to host one of these teams?

The Packers and Seahawks appear to be rounding into shape, so I would say those are both no’s. Even as bad as New Orleans has been this season, no one else is a surefire advance through the Superdome.

If I had to rank the remaining teams in order of likelihood that the Saints could take them out in a first-round home dog upset:

1. Arizona – Obviously. My feelings on this team have been well documented.

2. Dallas – The defense is wearing down. New Orleans could light it up for sure.

3. Philadelphia – Similar to Dallas in that the defense is coming back to earth. Also, Mark Sanchez on the road in the playoffs.

4. San Francisco – We’re still not sure if this team is any good, but I’d be terrified of Colin Kaepernick all the same if I were the Saints in this matchup.

5. Detroit – The defense is still among the best in the league, and Calvin Johnson finally looks healthy.

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I’m completely against firing a coach during the regular season, but we agree that the New Orleans Saints are holding off the pesky Falcons for the NFC South division title. Although I don’t feel nearly as solid about this prediction as you do. The Saints scare the hell out of me.

Luckily for New Orleans and for this debate, their remaining schedule of December games is highly favorable. If the Saints don’t win out, I find it hard to believe they will escape that wildcard matchup awaiting them in the playoffs. Carolina, Chicago, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay are all bad teams. The face off with Atlanta is the only game that should be close, but as New Orleans proved last week against Pittsburgh, never count out an opponent when facing the Saints’ defense.

The wildcard matchup that favors the Saints, the team they can best defeat, is the one with the worst starting quarterback. As Big Ben proved last Sunday, top passing attacks can and will shred the New Orleans Saints over the course of four quarters of football. Their rushing defense isn’t much better but their offense has put up points, so looking towards opponents with weakening defenses was a smart first move. I however, disagree.

The Saints have a strong enough offense to counter solid defensive play, so it’s really a weaker offense that will fall to New Orleans in the wildcard round. I too will eliminate the Green Bay Packers from my top five, but I’m not on board with the Seahawks just yet. I’m eliminating the Dallas Cowboys instead. The Thanksgiving massacre aside, the Cowboys run the ball so well that the Saints offense would barely see the field. Plus they are undefeated on the road. The Cowboys are not losing in the Superdome.

Here’s my ranking, in order of most likely to lose to New Orleans:

1. Detroit Lions – Their offense has been so stagnant I can’t trust them, especially not on the road. This is an exception to my rule above. The Lions are evening out into an average football team with little playoff experience.

2. San Francisco 49ers – I see a consistent pattern of one step forward, two steps back and a desire, for some crazy insane reason, to either trade or fire their head coach. This is great news for the rest of the league, but bad news for the 49ers. They don’t escape the Superdome either.

3. Arizona Cardinals – I’m now into shaky territory. The Cardinals vs Saints game is a tossup. Arizona has an unproven quarterback, but a stellar team all around. I smell a dogfight.

4. Seattle Seahawks – Its looking like Seattle will win their division, but if they fall into a wildcard berth then traveling to New Orleans will be no picnic. If the Saints can marginalize the run game, I haven’t seen enough out of Seattle’s passing attack to think it can win a shootout with Drew Brees.

5. Philadelphia Eagles – I don’t think the Eagles lose to the Saints, but for the purposes of debate they fall in as the least likely candidate to lose to New Orleans. If the Saints can get to Mark Sanchez, cause him to commit several of his patented turnovers, and keep the Eagles special teams unit from scoring touchdowns, then I see a Saints’ victory.

My preseason pick to represent the NFC in the Superbowl is certainly on shaky ground, but starting the playoffs at home goes a long way towards mustering up that old postseason experience and kicking things up a notch. Has a team with a losing record ever made the Super Bowl? If anyone can do it, the Saints can.