Saints suspensions hurt the NFC East

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

News that three New Orleans Saints would be suspended for using a diuretic could hurt the NFC Beast in its attempt to place more than one team in the playoffs.

The Saints (6-6) will lose Charles Grant, Will Smith and Deuce McAllister for the final four games of the regular season. The Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles were hoping for some help from the Saints, who host both the Falcons (8-4) and Panthers (9-3) in the final four games.

The Falcons hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys (8-4) at this point because of a better conference record. The Saints were in position to get themselves back in the playoff race with a win over Tampa Bay (9-3), but they couldn't pull off the upset Sunday.

McAllister's impact is minimal at this point in his career and Grant is already on injured reserve with a triceps injury. But the loss of Smith certainly hurts their chances of running the table to finish the season. The NFC East teams have to be wondering whether the Saints will keep bringing it every week now that they're virtually out of the playoff race and have lost three players.

This might be a good time for Jerry Jones to leave an encouraging voicemail on his former assistant Sean Payton's voicemail. If the Giants are the only NFC East team to make the playoffs, remember the day this suspensions came down.