After watching the Vikings drop 3 of their last 4 and the Saints lose two straight, I'm beginning to wonder if, subconsciously, teams get bored with playing out the regular season once they have playoff appearances clinched. Granted, they were still playing for home field advantage and that should be enough to motivate teams to play their best every week. (Not to mention the money these guys make) But I'm just perplexed watching two teams that were as dominating as can be for a good chunk of the season suddenly go in the tank.
If you'll recall, the same thing happened to the Arizona Cardinals last season. They had their division wrapped up by early December and proceeded to get trounced in subsequent games. That is, until the playoffs began. Then they got on a roll and stunned everyone by winning the NFC championship before losing the Super Bowl to the Steelers.
I'm not saying that the Saints or Vikings will duplicate what the Cardinals did last season. But the Cards proved it is possible to regroup and start playing well once the playoffs kick in. Time will tell.