No matter what’s happening Sunday in the Superdome or the Georgia Dome, New Orleans coach Sean Payton doesn’t plan on resting his starters against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Saints are in a bit of a unique position at 11-4. They already have secured a playoff spot and they could end up as the No. 1 or No. 5 seed in the NFC playoff field. Getting the No. 1 spot would require a victory against Tampa Bay and the 12-3 Atlanta Falcons losing to the Carolina Panthers. Both games will start at 1 p.m. ET.
If the Falcons simply win against the 2-13 Panthers, they clinch the No. 1 seed and the Saints are locked in at No. 5. So what if word starts trickling back to Payton that the Falcons are steamrolling the Panthers? Does he suddenly sit Drew Brees and some of his starters because the Saints won’t have a bye if they go in as a wild-card team?
“Absolutely not,’’ Payton said in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media on Thursday. “Our focus with where we are at as a team going into this last game of the regular season is strictly on doing everything we can to win this game and to get to 12 [wins]. So clearly as scores come up to the fans and everybody pays attention, but that won't impact our approach one bit."