The New Orleans Saints have already clinched a postseason berth and wrapped up a division title, but they have loftier goals in mind with four games remaining in the regular season. The Saints have the inside track on the top seed for the NFC playoffs and can take another step closer toward the goal against the visiting San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon.
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New Orleans, a winner of three straight and nine of 10, ascended to the No. 1 seed following San Francisco's 20-17 loss at Baltimore last week. "We've got bigger fish to fry," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said after the NFC South title-clinching win over Atlanta on Thanksgiving. "We have a list of goals and objectives. We just want to knock them down one by one, but at the end of the day, let's just keep it simple right now." The 49ers have lost two of four -- both on last-second field goals -- following an 8-0 start to fall into a tie with Seattle atop the NFC West, although the Seahawks own the tiebreaker. "It's an opportunity for us to prove (we're) the football team that we are," tight end George Kittle said. "This is another opportunity for us to go into someone's house and try to leave with win and that's what our goal is this week."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -2 O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE 49ERS (10-2): San Francisco's top-ranked defense, allowing league lows of 250.9 yards overall and 134.3 yards passing, held up well against a Baltimore offense that had averaged 45 points in its previous three games. Linebacker Fred Warner was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month after registering 44 tackles, including four for loss, 3.0 sacks and a pair of critical forced fumbles. The NFC leader in rushing at 148 yards per game, the 49ers received 146 yards and a touchdown from Raheem Mostert last week and got a boost with the return of running back Matt Breida to practice this week. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has registered a passer rating of at least 110.2 in five of the last six games.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (10-2): Brees, who missed five games due to a thumb injury, had one of his lowest outputs of the season with 184 yards passing and a touchdown at Atlanta. Wide receiver Michael Thomas also had a relatively quiet performance with six receptions for 48 yards but he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month after hauling in 37 catches for 415 yards and a pair of scores in November to boost his league-leading totals to 110 receptions and 1,290 yards. Running back Alvin Kamara has not rushed for a touchdown in seven games but had 31 catches in his last four contests. Cameron Jordan was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 4.0 sacks for a unit that ranks third against the run (88.6 yards).
1. Brees has a 100-plus passer rating in 10 of his last 11 at home.
2. Kittle had a season-low two catches last week after amassing a season-best 129 yards the previous week.
3. Saints starting LBs Kiko Alonso (thigh) and A.J. Klein (knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
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Key Players to Watch
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New Orleans Saints
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Peat left the previous game due to a high-ankle injury, and it is undetermined if he will line up Sunday versus the Lions.
- CalfQues Sun | questionable
Onyemata was held out of the last game with an injury to his calf, and it is uncertain if he will take the field versus the Lions on Sunday.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Thomas suffered left high-ankle sprain, and it has yet to be established if he will return against the Lions on Sunday.
- ElbowQues Sun | questionable
Davenport has sat out the past three games with an elbow injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday against the Lions.
- GroinQues Sun | questionable
Cook departed the last game with a groin injury, and it is uncertain if he will face the Lions on Sunday.
- HamstringOut indefinitely | I-R
Montgomery has been designated for the injured reserve list with a hamstring injury, and it is unknown when he team will bring him back.
- HipQues Sun | questionable
Hansen has sat out the previous two games due to a hip injury, and it is unknown if he will return against the Lions on Sunday.
- IllnessQues Sun | questionable
Jenkins is suffering from an unspecified illness, leaving his status for Sunday's tilt with the Lions up in the air.
San Francisco 49ers
- HamstringQues Sun | questionable
Witherspoon missed the last game with a hamstring injury, and it is up in the air if he will be active Sunday versus the Eagles.
- FootOut indefinitely | I-R
Samuel has ended up on the injured reserve list recovering from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot. Although he is targeting a return against the Dolphins in Week 5, it is unknown when the team will activate him.
- KneeOut indefinitely | I-R
Reed has been added to the injured reserve list due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. It is uncertain when the team will activate him.
- ConcussionQues Sun | questionable
Moseley departed the previous game due to a concussion, and it has yet to be established if he will be cleared in time for Sunday's contest versus the Eagles.
- RibsQues Sun | questionable
McKinnon has injured ribs, and there is no indication if it will keep him out of the lineup Sunday versus the Eagles.
- QuadricepOut indefinitely | I-R
Nzeocha has been shuttled to the injured reserve list due to a quad injury, and team officials have yet to provide an exact return date.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Kittle has missed the past two games due to a knee sprain, but it is expected that he will return Sunday versus the Eagles.
- KneeQues Sun | questionable
Mostert sat out the previous game with a mild sprain of the MCL in his knee, and it is unknown if he will play against the Eagles on Sunday.