With week 17 of the NFL season rapidly approaching, I felt that I should cover all the bases on how the New Orleans Saints can clinch a first round bye, home field advantage, and some key matchups the Saints need to tune into to avoid having to play on Wild Card weekend.

The New Orleans currently have a 12-3 record, which is only good for third place in the NFC. The good news, however, is that the Saints are already in the worst possible position they could be in. After week 17’s results arrive, the Saints have the ability to finish as the number 1, 2, or 3 seed in the NFC.

The San Francisco 49ers currently sit atop the NFC with a 12-3 record, with one of those victories coming against the Saints. The Green Bay Packers are currently the number two seed also with a 12-3 record, but since they didn’t play the 49ers, Seahawks, or Saints, they get to occupy the number two spot. The number three spot goes to the Saints who could move all the way up to the number one spot if the 49ers lose to the Seahawks and the Packers lose to the Lions. The 49ers could move all the way down to the number five spot with a loss to the Seahawks, and since the Saints beat the Seahawks in week 3, the Seahawks would be the number three seed.

If the Packers lose to the Lions and the 49ers win, the Saints will finish as the number two seed. If the Seahawks win, the Lions win, and the Saints win, the Saints will finish with the one seed and will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Keep in mind the Saints must beat the Panthers this Sunday for any of these scenarios to happen. A lot is riding on the outcome of other games for the Saints this weekend, and it certainly will be a finish worth watching!

Michael Balko is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @michaelbalkoUSN on Twitter.