After a 31-17 whooping on the Atlanta Falcons that really wasn’t even as close as the score ended up being once the Saints really kicked it into gear in the second half, New Orleans improved to an NFL-best 10-1 on the season — I have no idea how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Saints in Week 1 , so don’t ask me.
It really does seem like the only thing that is in the way of the Saints making an inevitable Super Bowl run is that perhaps they are peaking too early. Maybe there is something about this team that can be uncovered that may show a weakness. Maybe there is a code to be cracked — the rest of the NFL certainly hopes there is.
But maybe there isn’t.
Quarterback Drew Brees is playing at an MVP level. In fact, I don’t think it’s a hot take at all to say that Brees is the front runner for that honor, as it stands today. Brees currently has 3,135 passing yards with a completion percentage over 76 percent, and has thrown 29 touchdowns to just two interceptions. No one else has stats like that on a team as good as the Saints. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has over 1,000 yards receiving and 86 catches with five games remaining, and the dynamic running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara could not be going any smoother right now, as head coach Sean Payton is getting the absolute most out of both of their skillsets.
With the Rams also at 10-1, the Saints can not afford to let off the gas pedal, as they might lose out on home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is insane to think with only one loss with five games remaining.
So let’s look at their last five games and answer the question: Will anyone beat the Saints?
Week 13: At Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a Thanksgiving Day win themselves, as they hosted and defeated the division leading Washington Redskins by a score of 31-23. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw for a season-high 289 passing yards with two touchdowns. Running back Ezekiel Elliott also went over 100 yards rushing for the sixth time this season, the most in the league.
So does Dallas have what it takes?
Dallas’ strength comes in their rushing attack, and no team in the NFL holds their opponents to less rushing yards per week than the New Orleans Saints (73.2 yards per game). Part of that is just the fact that the Saints score so much that teams often have to abandon the run game early in the game. But whatever the reason is, teams do not have the luxury of running the ball on the Saints. I don’t see last week’s game being a renaissance game for Prescott, and I do not see his arm keeping up with Bress’.
Week 14: At Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the saddest stories in the NFL this year. A team that has been adding talent for the last two years with a budding draft class from 2017 and a young franchise quarterback in a vertical passing offense should have been a recipe for division contention.
That hasn’t happened.
Tampa Bay is currently minus-23 in the turnover department, which is on pace to be an NFL record for worst of all time. If you don’t get turnovers, you can’t win, especially against the Saints.
Don’t expect a repeat of Week 1.
Week 15: At Carolina
Week 15 is shaping up to be when the Saints may be most vulnerable.
The Carolina Panthers are currently slotted for a wild card spot, and that’s likely all they’ll get with the Saints firmly above them winning the division. However, after dropping two games in a row, Carolina will be fighting with a few other teams for that playoff spot and will likely be giving the Saints all they can handle. On top of that, this will be the first time these two teams play each in 2018 other and will meet again two weeks later.
I actually think Carolina takes this one.
Week 16: Vs. Pittsburgh
For as talented as I think Pittsburgh is on offense, when New Orleans plays in the Super Dome, things just go their way. That place is loud, the defense become suffocating, and the offensive momentum rolls forever.
Pittsburgh is a Top 5 team in the league when it comes to passing yards per game, so they do have the formula to keep up, but with it being at home for New Orleans, and think of the fact that if the Rams drop one between now and then that this game could be for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, I have to think the Saints out-duel the Steelers in a shootout.
Week 17: Vs. Carolina
This game all depends on what the Rams have done, to this point. If the Saints have locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they’ll be playing their backups against a Panthers team that will likely still be fighting for playoff positioning as a wild card team. If that’s the case, things will certainly go the Panthers way. But, if the Saints still have something to play for, I’d expect this to be another hard-fought battle, but one that would ultimately land in a Saints victory.
So, to answer the question of the article, yes, I do think he Saints drop one more game this season, with a stipulation of playoff positioning on a second game they could drop in their record, but one that would not affect them in the long run.
Regardless of if it’s 15-1, 14-2 or 13-3, the Saints look to be the Super Bowl favorites from the NFC side.