The Saints minuscule playoff chances stayed alive Sunday with their 48-41 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, along with the Dallas Cowboys’ 26-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Saints with an 8-8 record — that can come only with wins against the Buccaneers and Falcons in upcoming weeks — would hold tiebreakers over the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Panthers and Buccaneers, should they also post 8-8 records.
For that to happen, the Saints next week would need the Vikings (7-7) to beat the Packers (8-6), and then for both teams to lose in Week 17 — the Packers at Detroit and the Vikings at home against Chicago.
The Saints also would need the Buccaneers (8-6) and Redskins (7-5-1) to lose out — the Bucs at the Saints in Week 16 and then at home against the Panthers, and the Redskins at Chicago and then at home against the Giants.
The Panthers (5-8) can also go 8-8 if they win out against Washington, Atlanta and Carolina, but would lose the common-opponent tiebreaker to the Saints.
None of this matters, of course, if the Saints don’t win out. A seemingly unlikely scenario for a team that hasn’t strung together three consecutive wins in more than a year.