The New Orleans Saints had a record-setting Week 16 on Christmas Day. The Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills proved they are several of the NFL's top teams ahead of the playoffs. In Week 17, can the Chicago Bears pull the upset over the Packers, gain a playoff berth, and New Orleans and Seattle pull off victories to help the Saints earn the #1 seed in the NFC?
In NFC, the New Orleans Saints had a record-breaking week and can make history on Sunday.
The Seahawks (11-4) won the West, defeating the Rams (9-6) 20-9. Meanwhile, the Eagles (4-9-1) were eliminated from playoff contention, while their three NFC East counterparts are still alive. Washington (6-9) is feverish in controlling its destiny as they face the Eagles, and the Cowboys (6-9) and Giants (5-10) are still in contention.
In the AFC, the Chiefs locked up the No. 1 as the Steelers clinched the AFC North despite a three-game free fall. The AFC wild-card race tightened. Tom Brady and Tampa Bay (10-5) clinched its first playoff berth since 2007. Even after an embarrassing loss at Labeau Field, the Titans still have a shot at taking the AFC South.
The New Orleans Saints make history Sunday because no team has ever swept the NFC South. A sweep of the NFC South would be a first-time accomplishment within the division since realignment in 2002.
Alvin Kamara had the best game of his NFL career, as the Saints' offense against the Vikings was explosive. This was good news for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, as he was not completely comfortable in his second game since going on IR with a collapsed lung and 11 rib fractures. Brees is back, but now, Kamara is out.
The Saints’ most valuable player for Week 17 was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list the Saints announced on Friday. Saints star running back Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out versus the Panthers.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported,
Kamara has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out Week 17 vs Panthers, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Should Kamara remain asymptomatic and get medical clearance, he could play in an NFC Wild Card Weekend game on Sunday, Jan. 10, but not on Saturday, January 9th. Thusly, the upcoming NFL playoff schedule could determine Kamara’s playing status. Kamara may not practice next week.
It was reported that his initial positive COVID-19 swab was Thursday, which makes the 10th the earliest Kamara could return (a positive test demands a 10-day window). He is the second Saint placed on the list this week, joining safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
With two interceptions against the Vikings and several off-target passes, Brees seemed to need to protect his ribs when under pressure against the Vikings. Having Kamara to score 6 touchdowns made Brees’ job easier. Drew felt good about the progress and improvement the Saints are making on offense.
I definitely feel like the Vikings game was better,” Brees said. “I felt like we moved the ball extremely well, both on the ground and through the air. We didn’t punt the entire game, had what, 580 yards or something in total offense. So, we were moving the ball. We were rolling, we were doing what we wanted to do. I think there’s definitely more to be desired. There’s definitely room for improvement, especially as we kind of get to this last game and on our way into the playoffs. But, I think I’m pleased with the progress.
Having Marquez Callaway back is a significant step for the Saints, but losing Alvin Kamara to COVID-19 will immensely affect the offense. The good news is that Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris will return from injured reserve during the playoffs. The Saints will play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, January 3rd in the regular-season climax. New Orleans has won the NFC South for the fourth consecutive season.
Here the NFL Top 5 regular-season finale for 2020-21.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)
The Kansas City Chiefs have now officially locked in as the number 1 seed in the AFC after beating the Atlanta Falcons 17-14. The Chiefs are just coasting to wins at this point in the season as their goal is to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Patrick Mahomes continues to look less than impressive as he only completed 24 of his 44 pass attempts to go along with 278 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. Kansas City can rest this week and prepare for the playoffs.
2. Buffalo Bills (12-3)
The Buffalo Bills are now the AFC East division champions for the first time since 1995, after demolishing the New England Patriots 38-9. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have been spectacular this season and continued their convincing performance with 320 yards and 4 touchdowns and 145 yards with 3 touchdowns, respectively. The Bills Mafia has not had this much to celebrate in a long time, but here is hoping the Bills can stay hot on offense in the playoffs.
3. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
The Green Bay Packers just need to win their last game in order to secure the top seed and bye week in the NFC after beating the Tennessee Titans 40-14. Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams were on a mission against the Titans, throwing for 231 yards with 4 touchdowns and receiving for 142 yards with 3 touchdowns, respectively. Green Bay is in the driver’s seat of the NFC, and it could be a nightmare for any team that has to go through Lambeau Field to the Super Bowl
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)
The New Orleans Saints have won the NFC South for 4 straight years after eliminating the Minnesota Vikings from the playoffs in a 52-33 victory on Christmas Day. Alvin Kamara was simply sensational! He tied an NFL record with 6 rushing touchdowns in a single game to go along with 155 yards rushing. Drew Brees still looked rusty early with his 2 interceptions and zero touchdowns.
The Saints need a little New Year’s magic to leapfrog the Packers and take over the #1 seed in the NFC. But, all is not lost just yet.
5. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
The Seattle Seahawks are finishing the season strong after beating the Los Angeles Rams 20-9 to clinch the NFC West division. Russell Wilson continues to be special, throwing for 225 yards and a touchdown, and the defense is finding their groove. The Seahawks could still move up in playoff seeding with losses from the Saints and Packers, but for the time being, Seattle is one of the toughest teams to face in the wild card round.
Article Contributor Sam Lucio, Saints News Network Intern.