The Saints season that no one saw coming is on the verge of a playoff berth. 

A berth New Orleans could clinch this week. With a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night and a little bit of help on Sunday, the Saints could lock up a playoff spot. 

What's surprising is how simple the process of locking up a playoff spot could be. According to the NFL, there are six ways the Saints can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday if New Orleans takes care of business on Thursday night.

  1. A New Orleans win, a Carolina loss or tie to the Minnesota Vikings and a loss or tie from Dallas, which plays the woebegone New York Giants.
  2. A New Orleans win, a Carolina loss or tie and a Detroit loss or tie in its game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  3. A New Orleans win, a Lions loss or tie and a Green Bay loss or tie in the Packers' game against the Cleveland Browns.
  4. A New Orleans win, a Carolina loss and the Saints clinch strength of victory tiebreaker over Dallas, which depends on the results of several games.
  5. A New Orleans win, a Carolina tie and the Saints clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over Dallas and Green Bay.
  6. A New Orleans win, a Carolina tie, a Green Bay loss and the Saints clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over Dallas. 

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.

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