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NFL New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Week 9 Takeaways And What’s Ahead

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New Orleans Saints Week 9 Takeaways And What's In Store

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We have now gone through nine weeks of the 2013 NFL season. The time that passes in-between the end of every Super Bowl and the next season’s opening kickoff seems like it takes forever, while the actual seasons themselves seem to just blow right past us. It seems like just yesterday we were all anxiously awaiting the opening kickoff this year.

No worries -- such is life and we love football no less. This week’s games saw another round of action and excitement. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly pulled off an upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks by forcing overtime, but ultimately came up short and fell to 0-8. The other winless team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, had a bye week but probably somehow found a way to lose that.

Two other games this week also went into overtime as well. The Washington Redskins edged out the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon, and the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night in overtime on a safety.

A safety! That is amazing.

The Minnesota Vikings almost pulled off a victory against the Dallas Cowboys, which would have been nice, but it was not to be. The New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers combined for 86 total points at Foxborough in what was a very exciting, entertaining game. No one would have seen that coming with the way Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers began the season.

Unfortunately, however, the New Orleans Saints played a sloppy game against the New York Jets and fell to 6-2. Oh well. They have to move on and not let the game beat them twice.

Here now are some takeaways from the Saints’ Week 9 and what’s ahead.

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. Graham's Injury Status Crucial In Upcoming Games

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Graham was still working through a foot injury, but he still caught for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' loss to the Jets. Even with his injury, he continues to be a mismatch for opposing teams, as was seen in one of his touchdown catches when he literally dragged a New York defender several yards en route to the end zone.

Graham's status and availability are crucial for the Saints in the second half of the season. If opposing defenses decide to double up on him, that leaves somebody else available. If they decide to test him one-on-one, well ...

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4. Rob Ryan's Defense Got Ran Over

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ryan's defense limited the Jets to only 140 passing yards on nine completions, but got ran over by a powerful running game. All told, the Jets rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Former Saints running back Chris Ivory accounted for one of those touchdowns and 139 yards.

Ryan and his young group defenders will have to do a better job of stopping running backs in the future and will have to do their best to avoid missing tackles, which several players did today.

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3. Sproles' Status Unknown

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Sproles had to leave the game after he took a blow to the head on the Saints' first possession. His absence was immediately felt.

Sproles has been a leader in all-purpose yards for many seasons and has been a great contributor to the their offense. A quick recovery and return is crucial for New Orleans as this little guy plays a big role in the offense.

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2. Saints' Lack Of Running Game Continues To Hurt

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For yet another game, the Saints were mostly ineffective at rushing the ball. The final tally was 41 yards rushing, but somehow it seemed less than that. New Orleans needs to figure out a way to get better production in the rushing game or face becoming one-dimensional.

This was apparent on a third-and-inches and a fourth-and-inches play with less than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Saints should have smashed ahead for a first down, but opted to go for a short pass and then a reverse. Both failed, and it was painful to watch.

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1. Next Four Games Are Crucial

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The next four games are very important for the Saints. All of their opponents are in the NFC and three out of four of them likely have the postseason in their future.

The Saints will be at home against the Cowboys and 49ers, then have a short week for a Thursday night game in Atlanta, and then must travel across the country to play the Seahawks. This will be a tough stretch for New Orleans.