The New Orleans Saints have got the NFC reeling. Caught by surprise, the rest of the conference can only wonder where this rejuvenated Saints team will end up. It’s a situation very few saw coming.
The Saints ended up the 2012 season at 7-9, staggering like a punch drunk fighter. The double whammy of a terrible defense and the loss of Sean Payton to suspension had New Orleans on the ropes. Well, Payton is back and the chemistry between the cerebral Head Coach and his record setting quarterback is as strong as ever. The defense is now a formidable unit under Rob Ryan, making plays and creating turnovers. Jimmy Graham is playing like a beast, Darren Sproles is squirting all over the field, and the Saints have some young wide receivers that look like real contributors. The result? New Orleans shut down the Chicago Bears to go 5-0 and now are the single undefeated team in the NFC.
The real question of course is whether these New Orleans Saints are the real deal and whether they can continue at this pace throughout the rest of the NFL season and into the playoffs. While New Orleans has been winning they have yet to play a complete game. By that I mean the Saints are deficient in one key component: The running game.
At some point this season New Orleans will have to buckle down and run the ball. So far they’ve manged to use the short passing game to overcome their weakness. That will come back on them in at least one game this year. But don’t put it past Sean Payton to find the key.
Looking down the road the Saints have a tough game against New England on the road. Then there’s Buffalo at home, the Jets in New York, and Dallas in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. It’s not inconceivable that New Orleans could be 9-0 before meeting up with the 49ers in the Superdome. As it stands now the Saints have a huge lead in the NFC South. These Saints will be in the playoffs and unless lightning strikes they will command a high, if not the highest, seed in the conference.