The Saints made history last year, becoming the first team to win the Super Bowl after losing its final three regular-season games.
To repeat as champions this season, it appears they will have to buck history again. If they qualify for the playoffs, they probably will be a No. 5 or No. 6 seed, a hole only two teams (Pittsburgh 2005, New York Giants 2007) have climbed out of since the NFL expanded to six playoff teams per conference in 1990.
Sunday was a really bad day for the Saints. No, not because they blew a 20-6 second-half lead against 2-9 Cincinnati and needed a bonehead offside penalty on the Bengals to set up the winning touchdown in the final minute.
It was horrible because Atlanta rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Tampa Bay 28-24, maintaining a one-game lead on New Orleans that will be almost impossible to overcome. If the Falcons sweep a pair of games from lowly Carolina the rest of the way, they will win a tiebreaker with the Saints based on record versus common opponents.
To take the NFC South, New Orleans has to win its last four games against a difficult schedule (St. Louis, at Baltimore, at Atlanta, Tampa Bay) and hope Atlanta loses at Seattle on Dec. 19. Good luck with that.
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