Can the New Orleans Saints get back to their winning ways against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend? QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have struggled to get on track this season and are currently mired in a disappointing five game stretch where the Saints have gone 2-3, they have looked good (31-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and they have looked very bad (losses against the Arizona Cardinals and most recently against the Cleveland Browns). To hear me discuss the Saints and the NFC in general, you can click here.
The Saints have suffered from the proverbial “Super-Bowl hangover”. Drew Brees has looked mortal this season, last weekend tossing four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Last season, Brees threw 34 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions. This season, Brees is on pace to throw 23 interceptions. But you can’t simply lay the blame on the shoulder of Drew Brees.
Injuries have made a significant difference this season for the New Orleans Saints. This week, 13 Saints were listed on the New Orleans injury report. One cannot underestimate the loss of Darren Sharper in the secondary early on this season. Last season, the Saints had a very opportunistic defense which forced turnovers and scored touchdowns. Despite having caused 13 forced fumbles this season, the Saints only have four interceptions and have not scored a defensive touchdown this season.
The injuries have not been limited to the defensive side of the ball. RB’s Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush have been sidelined with injuries. Pierre Thomas has missed four weeks with an ankle injury, while Reggie Bush has missed five weeks with a fractured fibula. Several reports early in the week stated that Bush has been cleared to play but his return to the lineup this week is in doubt. Bush’s loss to the Saints offense can’t be underestimated. Bush’s loss has also hindered the return game as he Saints do not have a kick or punt return for a touchdown this season either.
Even the special teams for the Saints have struggled. Early season problems with K Garrett Hartley forced the Saints to bring back veteran kicker John Carney.
This week, the Saints face an uphill battle to get back on the winning track against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Saints will have Chris Ivory in the backfield and I’m not expecting the Saints to get much of a running game going against a very stout Steelers defense which is first against the run, allowing only 63 yards per game and slightly more than 13 points per game.
I’m not expecting the Saints to get back to their winning ways against the Steelers, but given their schedule going forward and as players return from injury, the Saints should gain enough momentum to make a run at one of the NFC’s wildcard spots.