The New Orleans Saints have earned momentum but little else with an inspiring upset win against the Falcons on Sunday.
The Saints are still two games out of the wildcard playoff race. If the playoff were to be decided now, behind division leaders Atlanta, Chicago, New York and San Francisco in the NFC, Green Bay (6-3) and Seattle (6-4) would win the two wildcard spots with Minnesota (6-4) on the outside looking in. NFC South rival Tampa Bay (5-4) remains ahead of the Saints in the chase as well, while New Orleans is tied with Dallas, Detroit and Arizona at 4-5.
After the Saints' match in O.co Coliseum next Sunday with the 3-6 Raiders, they will face a gauntlet of playoff contenders. They will host 6-2-1 San Francisco, travel to 8-1 Atlanta for a Thursday night fight and to the 6-4 New York Giants for a potential early December snow game the next week.
Lose to both California teams, and the season is over. Then, the two-game road trip to Atlanta and New York will define the Saints 2012 season - they will have to win both games to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.
The final three games won't be any easier, with games at home against rival Tampa Bay on December 16, in Dallas before Christmas and finishing the season at home against rival Carolina Panthers.
At 4-5, the Saints can likely afford no more than one loss in their effort to claim a wildcard spot. Pivotal to their success will be continuing the team's thirteen game win streak in the month of November as the Saints hope to leap above at least four teams to earn a playoff berth.