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NFL New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints’ Takeaways From Week 8 And What’s Ahead

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New Orleans Saints Week 8 Takeaways And What's Ahead

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Another NFL week is mostly in the record books now. Two teams remained without a victory, one remained unbeaten, the Dallas Cowboys were stunned with a last-second touchdown by Matt Stafford in Detroit. Slowly but surely, we are starting to get an early outline of what the playoffs might look like.

Although we still have half of the season yet to play, it is probably safe to rule out teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as having any kind of hope for the postseason. I am thinking Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano will not be the head coach in Tampa Bay after this season. Gus Bradley in Jacksonville will likely be around next year as he is in his first year with the Jaguars, who seem to be perpetually in rebuilding mode.

Two AFC West teams, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs, have started strong. Peyton Manning in Denver is a leading candidate for NFL MVP honors. The Kansas City Chiefs have boggled everybody’s mind with their impressive 8-0 start after having suffered a 2-14 season last year and a tragic murder-suicide.

The NFC West is no less competitive, with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers having started out 6-1 and 6-2 respectively. Meanwhile, the NFC North is currently up for grabs with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears each having four wins, but a different amount of losses. The Detroit Lions have five wins under their belt, but also have a worse winning percentage. At this stage in the season, it really is too close to call.

The New Orleans Saints improved 6-1 after their 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills and continue look as if they will once again become the NFC South champions. It is not a sure thing, of course, but it is unlikely we will see a Saints meltdown with half a season left to play.

Here now are some takeaways of the Saints’ Week 8 and a look at what’s in store.

Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Ryan's Defense Continues Solid Play

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ryan's young defense has continued to play solid football, helping the Saints stay in close games and pull away in others. Against the Bills, Ryan's defense caused four fumbles, of which three were lost, and had one interception. The Saints are now +8 in the giveaway/takeaway column.

Ryan will need his squad to continue to grow and learn together to close out the second half of the season. There are still plenty of divisional games to play as well as a tough Monday night road game against Seattle. So far, the defense has really been a crutch to lean on for an offense that has sputtered in the beginning of games. If the offense can finally begin to fire on all cylinders and the defense continues its strong play, look out opponents.

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4. Breesy Does It

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees had another monster game, going 26-of-34 passing with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He was able to get the ball to 10 different receivers and helped young star Kenny Stills have a breakout game. This game marked the eighth time Brees has had a game with five or more touchdowns in a game.

If Brees can get the offense to start strong in the opening quarters in the future, this will be a dangerous team to face off against, especially at home.

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3. A Star Rookie Is Born

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of the young rookie, Kenny Stills had what was by far his best game yet. Although he had only three catches, those receptions amounted to 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Stills has shown that he can be a viable alternative when Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are otherwise covered or neutralized. Heck, he might even become a throw-to-first kind of player if he continues to grow and develop his craft. With his speed, separation skills and ability to put himself into positions to come down with the ball, Stills' future is looking promising.

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2. Graham Limited, But Still Contributes

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

And speaking of Jimmy Graham, his return after an injury in Week 6 was a great thing to see. Although he returned in a limited capacity and played on just 16 offensive snaps, he continued to produce. Graham finished the day with three receptions for 37 yards and two touchdowns.

Head coach Sean Payton planned to use Graham sparingly and only for a limited time ahead of the game, and will likely continue to do so as he continues to heal from his foot injury. Once he is fully healthy, however, look out NFL.

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1. Eyes On The Postseason

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

They probably will not admit to it, but you have to believe the Saints' players and coaches are thinking about the playoffs already. Sure, they have to get there first, but at this point it's looking like they will continue to maintain a solid hold of the NFC South.

New Orleans still has four divisional games remaining and of course two difficult NFC West opponents to match up against. The Saints have a tough three game schedule in mid-November where they will host the San Francisco 49ers on a Sunday, travel to Atlanta on a short week for a Thursday night game against the Falcons and then travel to play the Seahawks in Seattle for a Monday Night Football contest.

It will be crucial that New Orleans wins at least two of those games to maintain favorable standing in the NFC. It would be especially nice if they could win against Seattle.