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Tuesday, December 21, 2010
More on NFC South playoff picture

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Soon after the NFL sent out its updated playoff scenarios earlier this afternoon, ESPN Stats & Information sent out a supplemental package. This goes a little beyond the NFL’s package, which was simply limited to clinching scenarios that can happen this week.

I’ve kept this in my back pocket for a few hours because I wanted to give Trent Dilfer, my new all-time favorite player and co-worker, a nice long run in the top spot in the NFC South Blog. But now that Trent’s done some serious traffic directing, we’ll go ahead and move him into the No. 2 slot on the blog.

Again, our earlier post showed what Atlanta can do this weekend to clinch the NFC South title and home-field advantage and what the Saints can do Monday night to clinch a playoff spot.

But, now, let’s look at the supplemental stuff that looks beyond this week. Although they would be the No. 5 seed in the current playoff picture, there still is a scenario where the Saints can win the NFC South and earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC, which means home-field advantage through the playoffs.

For that to happen, the Saints would have to beat the Falcons on Monday night and Tampa Bay in the season finale. The Saints also would need the Falcons to lose to Carolina in Week 17.

If that happens, the Saints and Falcons would be tied at 12-4. In that situation, the Saints would win the tiebreaker because they have a better record within the division.  Even if Philadelphia and Chicago also end up at 12-4, the Saints would get the No. 1 seed because they would hold tiebreakers on both the Bears and Eagles.