Goodness, a prime time matchup tonight that actually lives up to its promise, as the 9-2 New Orleans Saints visit the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks in their first meeting since the 2010 playoffs... you may remember that as the occasion when the then 7-9 Seahawks ambushed the 11-5 Saints 41-36 as Marshawn Lynch engaged Beast Mode.
The Saints are battling for top place in the NFC South with the 9-3 Carolina Panthers, literally so in two of the next three games. The Buccaneers and Falcons are both languishing at 3-9 so it's guaranteed that one of the two will win the division. A win tonight would give them the tiebreaker over Seattle and a step toward homefield advantage in the playoffs; they're 0-3 on the road in the playoffs under Sean Payton.
The Seahawks are two games ahead of the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers and three ahead of the 7-5 Arizona Cardinals, but face both teams once more each in the final four games of the season. They've also lost yet another player to suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, with cornerback Walter Thurmond set to miss the next four games. I am shocked. Shocked.
From a Bears perspective, the Seahawks' worst possible win-loss record is 10-6, which would tie them with the Bears' best possible record but they've already won more games within the NFC than the Bears would have if we ran the table, so they hold the tiebreaker. From that viewpoint, if you're still hoping for the Bears to make the playoffs, root for Drew Brees & co. to poop the bed.
This is your Monday Night Football Open Thread. I won't tell if you won't.