The Saints took control of the NFC South race Thursday night.
Such that a 4-4 team can be in control of anything.
They’re now clear of the 3-5-1 Panthers after last night’s 28-10 win in Charlotte, but nothing is as it appears in the dirty south (The NSFW South?).
The Saints have the edge now, but play a tougher schedule down the stretch, significantly tougher than the Panthers.
In fact, after playing the Eagles on the road next Monday night, the only team the Panthers play the rest of the season which has a winning record now is the Browns (and no that’s not a typo).
The combined record of the rest of the Panthers’ opponents is 21-32. Of course, those teams are looking at the Panthers as examples of the relative strength of their own schedules as well.
The Saints, meanwhile, have to play some actual teams. Their next three opponents, all at home, are a combined 13-8-1 (San Francisco, Cincinnati and Baltimore).
Then come road trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago, and they haven’t been a particularly good cold weather team outdoors. Their opponents’ record the rest of the way is 27-33-2. That’s not good, but it’s Bataan-like compared to the Panthers’ schedule.
Heck, at that rate, even the 2-6 Falcons aren’t really out of it.
(Tried to type this with straight face. Couldn’t. Sorry.)
But as clean as the Saints have looked the last two games, and as hapless as the Panthers have looked the last seven (1-5-1), this division and the home playoff game that comes with it isn’t settled by a long shot.