Will the results from last night’s prime time game affect the results of tonight’s prime time game?
If the Los Angeles Rams would have won last night, the New Orleans Saints would have needed to win in Carolina tonight to keep their position with the top seed in the National Football Conference playoffs. But, given the Rams got beat by the Philadelphia Eagles last night, 30-23, the Saints now have an opportunity to pad their lead over the Rams in the win/loss column while owning the tiebreaker by virtue of their victory over the Rams last month.
Does the second straight loss by Los Angeles give the Saints a cause to excel, or does the prospect of moving into a secure hold of the top spot actually add pressure that makes the Saints chances for success significantly less. Taken objectively, the challenge to maintain a hold on the top spot is a better motivator than the prospect of embellishing a first place standing.
The challenge to stay is a ‘need’ situation, while expanding their hold on first place falls into the ‘want’ category.
Even before last night’s result, this was going to be a tough stop on the Saints train to the playoffs. The Panthers are loaded motivationally for their best effort of the season, and the Saints are in a very soft motivational posture following the Rams loss.