The New Orleans Saints won't go away. Hot on the tail of the 49ers for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, the Saints beat the Falcons Monday 45-16 to improve their record to 12-3. That means the 49ers (12-3) either must win in Sunday's finale in St. Louis or hope that the Saints lose at home to the Panthers. Both games start at 10 a.m. (PST). The Saints are undefeated at home this season. The 49ers would win a tiebreaker over the Saints because of a better record against conference opponents.
The No. 2 seed will get a bye in the first round of the playoffs and then host one of two divisional round games. The No. 3 seed will host a wild-card round game against either the Lions or Falcons depending on the Week 17 results. The Lions visit Green Bay in the finale; the Falcons host the Buccaneers. The Packers, 49ers, Saints, Lions and Falcons have wrapped up spots in the NFC playoffs. The remaining spot will go to the winner of Sunday's game between the Giants and Cowboys.
-- Matt Barrows