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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) falls on his loose ball against Dallas Cowboys during the second half Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

The Saints lost more than a game Thursday night in Arlington -- they also lost the driver's seat for the NFC's top seed. 

Heading into the game, the Saints were tied for the best record in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. With their high-flying offense only managing two scores in a 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Saints must wait and hope the Rams lose again to secure the top seed and home games throughout the playoffs. 

The Saints are now 10-2. 

What the loss means ...

For the NFC South: The Saints had a chance to be the first team in the NFL to clinch a divisional crown as early as Sunday if things fell into place -- that is no longer the case. A Saints win and a Carolina Panthers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have clinched New Orleans its second divisional crown in as many seasons. Despite the loss, the Saints are still prohibitive favorites to win the division, up 3.5 games with only four weeks remaining. If the Panthers win Sunday, it would require a Saints win and a Panthers loss in Week 14 to secure the division. If the Panthers lose, the Saints would just need to defeat the Buccaneers. 

 

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For the NFC's top seed: For the first time since defeating the Rams in a Week 9 slugfest, the Saints are not the top team in the playoff race. The 10-1 Rams can guarantee themselves the top seed and home games throughout the NFC playoff bracket if they win their remaining five games. They are next in action at noon on Sunday in Week 13, heading on the road to play the Detroit Lions. Should the Rams lose Sunday or drop any game the rest of the regular season, the Saints will have a chance to step back into first by virtue of the tiebreaker they earned in the head-to-head win. 

For a first-round bye: The top two seeds in each conference earn a first-round bye and at least one home game in the NFL playoffs. The Saints -- despite the loss -- remain firmly entrenched in the No. 2 spot. That said, the 8-3 Chicago Bears lurk as the closest threat to jump up and nip that spot away. The Bears, playing for the second consecutive week without quarterback Mitch Trubisky, hit the road to face off with the New York Giants on Sunday. 

A final bit of good news for the Saints: The two teams closest to New Orleans in the NFC standings -- the Bears and Rams -- face off in Week 14. The result of that game will go a long way in determining the Saints' fate. 

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