How Do NFL Teams Perform When Clinching Postseason Spot In Week 18?

How Do NFL Teams Perform When Clinching Postseason Spot In Week 18?

It has been a rollercoaster year for the Saints playoff chances, but New Orleans still has a shot at snapping the franchise’s three-year playoff drought in the Crescent City on Sunday afternoon, with a playoff berth on the line in the team’s regular season finale.

That’s because the Saints and Atlanta Falcons will meet at noon local time Sunday with New Orleans locked in a first-place tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South, with this weekend’s results proving the difference between postseason jubilation and a unsultry end to a season of potential for both teams.  

While the Bucs’ get the 2-14 Panthers in Week 18, the Saints’ playoff path will be much more arduous, facing off against a Falcons team that’s lost three of their last five but that has thrived at points during the NFL’s regular season. The Saints need to win and the Bucs to either lose or tie for New Orleans to win the division. A playoff berth is still possible should the Saints tie the Falcons on Sunday, but they'd need help from Seattle and Green Bay, to boot.

Right now, the Saints are a three-point favorite to win on Sunday, per ESPN BET Louisiana, with a -165 moneyline in favor of New Orleans, to +140 for the visitors from Atlanta.  

Utilizing Champs or Chumps, LouisianaBets.com, the go-to site for everything on Louisiana sportsbooks, local sports teams and more, looked at how teams ended up performing after clinching a playoff spot in the last week of the season since 2013 NFL season. There have been 29 teams that have clinched a playoff spot on the last week of the season in the last 10 seasons.  

Prior to 2021, the data below refers to Week 17.  

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Performance of Teams Clinching in Last Week

SituationNumber of Teams Percentage
Winning Wild Card Round15 of 2951.7%
Winning Divisional Round2 of 296.9%
Winning Conference Championship0 of 290.0%
Winning Super Bowl0 of 290.0%

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Can Saints Join NFL’s Final Weekend Warriors?

More than half of the 29 NFL teams that clinched a playoff berth in the final week of the regular season went on to win their Wild Card round contest, with 15 (or 51.7%) doing so since 2013.  

The Saints would be locked into the fourth seed in the NFC with a win and a Tampa Bay loss or tie in Charlotte on Sunday, which would likely pit them against the Green Bay Packers or Seattle Seahawks, depending on which team gets the seventh and final spot in the league’s playoff bracket. 

It’s worth noting that Tampa Bay is currently listed as a 5.5-point road favorite on ESPN BET Louisiana on Sunday, though the Bucs’ did struggle at points during their 21-18 home win over the Panthers in their only other meeting this season.  

Should New Orleans reach the playoffs, they’ll do their darnedest to join the two teams since 2013 that have advanced past the NFL’s Divisional Round after clinching a postseason berth in the final week of the regular season, though reaching such a point will require some help from the Panthers come Sunday afternoon.  

In conclusion? They may be a longshot, but don't discount those Saints Super Bowl odds just yet.

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Author

Christopher Boan writes for LouisianaBets.com and has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, with experience at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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