After the first set of NFL games in Week 7 came to a conclusion, I found myself thinking of the New Orleans Saints‘ chances of reclaiming the NFC South division title and their overall hopes for postseason play this season. After a disastrous 2012 season that saw the suspension of head coach Sean Payton and a defense that gave up a record breaking 7,042 yards, things are looking good for the Saints this year after going 7-9 last season.
New Orleans jumped out to a commanding lead in the NFC South this season, winning their first five games and losing their sixth to the New England Patriots. Their first two games were against division opponents, and they were able to win both of those, one at home and one on the road. Last year’s NFC South winner and preseason NFC favorites, the Atlanta Falcons, have been plagued by poor defensive play and injuries. Today the Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in the Georgia Dome and improved to 2-4 on the season. The Buccaneers, too, have gotten off to a rather lousy start, losing their first six games, and they have faced adversity in what looks to be some franchise instability after cutting quarterback Josh Freeman and starting rookie Mike Glennon in his place.
The next best record in the NFC South belongs to the Carolina Panthers, 3-3, who improved to .500 after beating the St. Louis Rams at home earlier today. The Panthers, however, have a tough schedule ahead of them. They still have to play the Saints and Falcons twice, the Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets. That’s not exactly an easy slate of games.
Assuming New Orleans does not have a midseason meltdown or some kind of season ending injury to Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham or any other offensive weapon, the Saints’ postseason chances are looking good. They have a very good opportunity to come away with a minimum of 10 wins and will probably get more than that.
If the season keeps playing out the way it is, it looks like the NFC South title will be coming back to New Orleans. It is of course too early to call, but Saints fans should have high hopes this year.