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Saints now playing for playoff seeding, bye

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METAIRIE, La. (AP)

The Saints are scoreboard watching. Maybe not so much during the games, but definitely afterward.

New Orleans is battling San Francisco for the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC. So after the Saint's 22-17 win over Tennessee Sunday, players turned their focus to the 49ers' game against Arizona - the Cardinals won 22-19.

Right tackle Zach Strief couldn't wait for the chartered flight home from Nashville, Tenn., to land Sunday night.

''I know we were waiting for cell service to come back flying home (Sunday night) to see if Arizona held on,'' Strief said. ''There's some (scoreboard watching) because that two-seed would be important. Having been in that position before we know how valuable it is.''

Both New Orleans and San Francisco are 10-3 and, with three games to go, the Saints would be the second seed if they finish with a better overall record than the 49ers.

So Saints coach Sean Payton and his players will keep an eye on what happens with San Francisco during this home stretch of the season.

''I could tell you we don't pay any attention to it, and that wouldn't be true,'' Payton said. ''But it doesn't really begin to take place until December. ''

New Orleans has already clinched its third-straight playoff berth for only the second time in franchise history. And under Payton's leadership, the Saints will make their fourth postseason appearance in the past six seasons for only the second time in club history.

And for the first time in franchise history, the Saints will have at least 10 wins in three straight seasons.

But the latest bit of history isn't necessarily something Strief said the team needs to celebrate. The Saints are focused on bigger goals.

''Unfortunately you look into the history of this team and there's maybe not the most-storied past,'' Strief said. ''So I don't think necessarily doing things that have never happened here before are cause for immediate celebration.

''I think that winning a second Super Bowl would be something that would be cause for celebration. Those types of things are ahead of us and still kind of lie in front of us. We'll save the big celebrations for the end of the season.''

The Saints finish the season at Minnesota before hosting Atlanta and Carolina.

The No. 2 seed comes with a first-round bye, something the Saints know from previous experience is important in the playoffs.

That's why safety Malcolm Jenkins said there won't be don't a letdown against Minnesota.

''I think everybody is focused,'' Jenkins said. ''Our goals are right there in front of us. We need this win. I think it's enough motivation for us to go out and handle business.''

Tagged: Saints, Zach Strief

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