The Saints come into the final day of the NFL regular season with an outside shot at the top seed in the NFC and the bye next week that comes with it. It would take a win over the Panthers, the Packers losing in Chicago, and the Seahawks beating the 49ers in Arizona to create a three-way tie at 12-4 in which New Orleans would have the tiebreaker.
What the Saints won’t have is Alvin Kamara, who has coronavirus, nor fellow running backs Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington, and Michael Burton, who were in close contact with Kamara. The running backs who will be available, Tony Jones Jr. and Ty Montgomery, have combined for one carry this season.
The Saints may be better equipped than most teams to handle something like this, given the way their offense works and the utility of Taysom Hill. Still, the situation speaks to the ridiculousness of this entire season, not that the Saints haven’t benefited from that themselves. At the end of November, the Saints had a virtual walkover in a tough road setting, beating the Broncos, 31-3, after all of Denver’s quarterbacks were barred from action.
Meanwhile, the possible range of outcomes for the Giants goes from NFC East champions, if they win and Washington loses, to a top-5 pick in the draft if they lose and some other results break the right way.
The most exotic scenario of the day is the one where the Browns make the playoffs with a loss, a Titans loss to the Texans, a Dolphins win over the Bills, and a Ravens win over the Bengals. Cleveland has its own COVID-19 issues, with six players on the reserve list, a shutdown at their facility for the third time in four days on Saturday, and offensive line coach Bill Callahan having to miss the game against Pittsburgh.
The 76ers beat the Hornets, 127-112, and moved to 5-1 on the young season. It’s possible that something interesting happened in the game, sure, but the reason to mention it here is that after the game, Daryl Morey retweeted Sadie, the “Sixers Piano Girl,” playing the team’s longtime anthem, “Here Come The Sixers.”
Please consider this to be an open call for a Western in which the saloon piano player (Sadie, if she wants the role) is playing this song only to come to an abrupt stop when the nefarious outlaw walks in. It doesn’t even have to be a film Western, a State Farm commercial with Chris Paul in a cowboy hat for some reason would work just fine. Just get that song, on piano, into a saloon setting.
For the uninitiated, it’s not just a piano song. There are words, and it is delightful.
The College Football Playoff title game remains, but the bowls are over. A lot of rosters weren’t as they were during the regular season due to opt-outs, not that the regular season was particularly regular in its own right, and bowls are always one-offs where degrees of motivation matter a lot.
Even so, the whole exercise made a mockery of the rankings. No. 11 Indiana, No. 12. Coastal Carolina, No. 22 San Jose State, No. 23 N.C. State, and No. 24 Tulsa all lost to unranked opponents. No. 2 Clemson, No. 8 Cincinnati, and No. 18 Miami lost to lower-ranked foes. No. 15 Iowa and No. 17 USC were ranked but didn’t go to bowls, the Hawkeyes having their Music City Bowl date with Missouri wiped out by coronavirus, the Trojans opting out after losing the Pac-12 title game.
Meanwhile, Iowa State, which lost the Big 12 title game, had a pretty easy time in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl with fugazi Pac-12 champion Oregon, which finished second in the league’s North Division, but beat USC in the title game after Washington couldn’t play.
But what did it even mean? Nothing. There’s no reason, nor has there been a reason at any point in the last several decades, that all of these meaningless bowl games couldn’t be repurposed to serve as an expanded college football playoff. Imagine the excitement of all that chaos with ranked teams falling if it actually meant something. You don’t even have to imagine that hard: March Madness already exists. Just do it already.