The New Orleans Saints was one team that I was trying to not to write about this year. After beating the lifeless Oakland Raiders 38-17, how do we ignore them? We can’t.
Seriously, I was avoiding them. The storyline was one that everyone already knew. Sean Payton was banned for the season. Several key players were banned for multiple games. The Saints were supposed to be disconnected, being leaderless.
The Saints were called dead before the season started. Then they went winless in the first four weeks, but have since gone 5-1!
So, why are the New Orleans Saints winning again and do they (*gasp*) have a chance to make the playoffs?
First off, I’m not convinced that one of the Who Dat Nation didn’t cast a voodoo spell to bring the Saints back from the dead. Their defense was ranked dead last (pun intended) during the month. They gave up an average of 32.5 points the first four games. Since then, they have averaged 20.5 points.
Twelve points of Points Allowed is a huge difference in the NFL. And, it’s not like the Saints are facing cupcakes now. They had to beat division rivals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons.
On Offense, they are playing more in sync. While Sean Payton is gone, his foundational plan is still in place. In retrospect, it seems like the Saints just needed to figure how to function without their fearless leader.
So, do they have a chance to make the playoffs? Of course, they do. At 5-5, they have to be in the conversation.
However, the odds are not in their favor. While they beat the Bucs and Falcons, both teams are still ahead of them in the division race. They will have a chance to gain ground with games against both. In addition, they have challenges with San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, and a re-surging (and desperate) Dallas Cowboys.
To solidify a playoff spot, they will need to win four out of the six. If they achieve a 9-7 record, they may have a chance against other wild-card contenders Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Seattle Seahawks. And don’t forget the Bears and Packers will grab the other playoff spot.
For the Saints to get those wins, they are going to have to keep constant on defense. Drew Brees will have to keep throwing lights out. Most importantly, their crowded backfield is going to find a solid runner. My money is on Mark Ingram to bust through, as he has averaged five yards per carry over the past three games.
I will say, my money is not on the Saints making the playoffs. When the season is all done, the season will end as intended. The Saints will be at home wondering what could have been if they could have those first four games re-done.
Or, they will be able to find another voodoo curse for the rest of the contenders.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.
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