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NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers, Saints To Figure Things Out Next Sunday

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The New Orleans handled their business Monday evening as they had little trouble dispatching the Atlanta Falcons with a 45-16 victory. The Falcons hung around into the second quarter but then the Saints poured it on to roll to a fairly easy victory.

The Saints and 49ers are tied at 12-3 with the 49ers holding the tiebreaker edge. Both teams will play at 10:00am PT with the Saints hosting the Carolina Panthers and the 49ers traveling to face the St. Louis Rams. Had the Saints lost, the 49ers would have been in a position to rest some of their starters. Instead, the 49ers now will have to play this game as the must-win game that it is.

The 49ers are going to the playoffs and playing a home-game no matter what happens on Sunday. However, as the Saints have been showing in recent weeks, they are really tough when they are playing indoors. They did lose a game indoors at the Rams, but the Saints seem to be playing on another plane right now when they are indoors. Since their Week 11 bye, the Saints are 5-0 with their only single digit victory coming on the road against the Tennessee Titans.

The 49ers are in prime position to secure the number two seed, and in my mind it's absolutely essential to secure that seed. The New Orleans Saints scare me at the Superdome, but on the road, they appear beatable. They are no roll over, but if the 49ers can get them out in the elements (how about a little quality fog?), that prolific offense slows down to a certain degree. The 49ers defense is strong no matter what, but any advantages the defense can gain is plenty welcome. There are no style points in playoff losses so you take the wins any way you can get them.