New Orleans, LA. -
The New Orleans Saints (11-5, 9-3) finished up their regular season schedule at home in the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday afternoon with a 23-13 loss to the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6, 8-4). This makes the Saints the #5 seed and sets up a first-round NFC Wildcard Game battle at the #4 seed NFC West Division Champion Seattle Seahawks (7-9, 6-6) on this coming Saturday January 8, 2011 at Qwest Field.
This sets up a rematch of Week 11 where New Orleans defeated Seattle at home in the Dome 34-19. The Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams (7-9, 5-7) 16-6 in Seattle on Sunday to secure the division on Sunday night becoming the first team to win a division and host a first-round playoff game with only 7 wins.
For the Saints, injuries have played a major part in the last couple of games and is a huge concern for the post-season. These following players are nursing injuries: WR Marques Colston (Knee), WR/ST Courtney Roby (Head/Concussion), DT Tony Hargrove (Knee), TE Jeremy Shockey (Groin), TE David Thomas (Knee), LB Anthony Waters (Ankle), RB Pierre Thomas (RB), TE Jimmy Graham (Ankle), RB Chris Ivory (Foot), S Malcolm Jenkins (Knee).
Saints head coach Sean Payton will not "tip his hand" until the last minute as to who will be ready to go for Saturday as noted by the post-game reporters on the New Orleans local WWL network. NFL team doctors do not have to release injury reports until Wednesday. The WWL reporters went on to say that even Payton himself may not know for sure as the Black and Gold will have a short week of preparation. Due to having to play an early Saturday afternoon game, the Saints will have to leave for Seattle, WA. on Thursday as they have done in the past.
New Orleans seems to remain optimistic by wanting the world to know that they are ready to go on the road wherever the playoffs take them. 2011 Pro Bowl selection Quarterback Drew Brees has went on to say that it really does not matter who or where the Saints play, whether at home or on the road. The experience from last year's post-season run to the Superbowl has them poised for this year's run.
With a healthy Brees, along with his offensive line, the Saints stand a chance to win against anyone if they can get some of the skilled players healthy enough to go for the offense. The defense seems a little more healthy overall and appears to have less injuries to deal with. Special teams may get their star-caliber player Courtney Roby back in time for this weekend.
The other Wild Card game will be the #6 seed Green Bay Packers (10-6, 8-4) traveling to the # 3 seed NFC East Division Champion Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, 7-5) on Sunday with a 3:30 pm CST kick-off. The #1 seed NFC South Division Champion Atlanta Falcons (13-3, 10-2) and the #2 seed NFC North Division Champion Chicago Bears (11-5, 8-4) have first-round byes and await the winners of the wildcard games for the second-round divisional matchups set for the following weekend.
Start time for the Saints/Seahawks game on Saturday is scheduled for 3:30 pm CST and will be televised by NBC.