“The Saints are like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.” – Someone’s momma.
For the three of you wondering in suspense whether or not the Saints of New Orleans will make a playoff spot this season, I have come to relieve you of the confusion. It’s not happening. My name is not Deborah and I am not a downer, but it’s time to let go of those Wild Card dreams. The probabilities are already slim enough without having to deal with the two-sided personality of the Saints.
The same Saints team led by Drew Brees’ seven-touchdown performance in a successful gun-slinging bout with the New York Giants in Week 8 was the same Saints team that gave the Tennessee Titans only their second win of the season the very next week in overtime. It is difficult to imagine that the defense was once the saving grace of this team. I use the term “saving grace” very lightly here, but the offensive magic was slow to appear so it actually made the defense look … well, serviceable.
Jameis Winston only mustered up 194 yards and one touchdown in the Saints’ Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers. They gave up 39 points to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5 but then turned around the next week and looked incredible against their at-the-time undefeated division rival Atlanta Falcons. The win was highlighted by the defensive line’s five sacks on Matt Ryan and three recovered fumbles.
The Saints' offense was questionable in the first few weeks, as it only averaged 76 yards rushing through the first three games. The offensive line looked as if it had an inside bounty on Brees’ head. Speaking of, remember that time Brees missed a game? And backup Luke McCown went 31-for-38 for 310 yards against the Panthers and then everyone called for Brees to be benched in favor of McCown? Good times.
Now, they have swapped. Brees heard the media and fans’ loud whispers of giving him the Old Yeller treatment and has been on a tear ever since. But the defense is now so nonexistent that it's almost impressive. The Saints are now dead last in the league thus far in total defense. After allowing 47 points to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, that ranking actually dropped from 31st to last. The previous worst defense belonged to the Giants, which explains why the two teams scored a combined 101 points in their match. They are in last place in points allowed and total yards allowed, and 30th in passing yards allowed. Quite a variance from the other side of the ball, which ranks third in the league in total offense.
This flip-flopping team full of inconsistency is the same team that one must entrust to attempt to solidify a playoff spot. I’ve learned my lesson on distrusting Brees, but can the high-powered version of the offense show up for the remainder of the season? The upcoming Saints’ schedule is as follows:
Opponent Defensive ranking
- Week 11: Bye
- Week 12: @ Houston Texans (3-5) 15th
- Week 13: vs. Carolina Panthers (9-0) 14th
- Week 14: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) 11th
- Week 15: vs. Detroit Lions (2-7) 26th
- Week 16: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) 18th
- Week 17: @ Atlanta Falcons (6-3) 10th
According to playoffstatus.com, if the Saints finished 10-6, they would have a 40 percent chance of getting the last Wild Card spot. Looking at the schedule prior to the Redskins loss with the super-powered offense and play-making defense version of the Saints in mind, 6-1 should have been feasible. They did nearly beat the Panthers with a backup quarterback. The Lions are, well, the Lions. And they’ve already beaten the Falcons, so they know the recipe to success in that game.
However, if the 6-1 was going to happen, that one loss would have been to the undefeated Panthers. Now, they would have to go undefeated. Beating teams with a combined 27-26 record seems to be statistically possible, but based on the last couple of weeks, things can go very badly.
The Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde act is too much to guarantee wins that normally would be deemed easy. The Saints still aren’t averaging 100 rushing yards per game after years of fans calling for the talented group of backs to get more plays. This forces Brees to attempt the 370 passes he’s thrown thus far, which is the third most of any starting quarterback right now. On top of that, the Saints have some injury trouble with six players out for the season, including running back Khiry Robinson and some nagging injuries to key players like Keenan Lewis.
Of course, it’s possible that the Black and Gold can go 6-0 in their remaining games. It's also possible that I win the Powerball on Saturday. You can hold on to those dreams, or be realistic and avoid that end-of-season disappointment. That Carolina game is looming over them, and even after already beating Atlanta that will not be an easy game, especially in the Georgia Dome. If they lose just one more game, the probability of no playoffs jumps from 7 percent to 53 percent. But cheer up guys! There's always basketball seas--oh, well...there's always next season.
i write about sports and stuff. Sports radio co-host. Work in pro sports. My opinions are not an endorsement of my employer. Don't fine Marshawn Lynch.