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New Orleans Saints’ Week 16 In Review And What’s Ahead

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New Orleans Saints Week 16 Recap And What Lies Ahead

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another week of NFL action and we had heartbreak, disappointment and upsets all around us. With only one more week of regular season professional football to look forward to, we should be thankful for the time we have left and reflect on where we have been this season.

Denver Broncos’ Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning broke the single season record for most touchdowns thrown by throwing number 51 on the season. The record was previously 50 and was held by another Pro Bowl quarterback and future Hall of Fame candidate, New England Patriots’ Tom Brady.

Manning has all but secured the 2012 MVP award and I look forward to seeing him compete for another Lombardi Trophy. He is truly one of the greatest to eve play the quarterback position.

In an upset that nobody ever thought would happen, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the Seattle Seahawks. Not only did they manage to accomplish this, but they did it IN Seattle! Seahawks’ second year quarterback Russell Wilson had never lost a game at home until this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions lost a close one to the New York Giants and are on the verge of seeing the NFC North slip away from their grasp after having lost two in a row. The Chicago Bears will have a chance to solidify their hold on the division against the Philadelphia Eagles in a Sunday night match up that has serious implications.

The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a close one against NFC East rival Washington Redskins, but head coach Jason Garret’s position as head coach is anything but certain. If he has any hope of keeping his job the Cowboys must get themselves into the playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs, the New Orleans Saints’ are not out of the postseason just yet, but their chances of securing the NFC South and the no. 2 seed in the NFC took a serious hit with the week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Here now is a look at the Saints’ week 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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Personnel Changes After Struggles

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After both kicker Garrett Hartley and left tackle Charles Brown struggled, coach Sean Payton cut Hartley and started rookie Terron Armstead in Brown's place.

Hartley's replacement, veteran kicker Shayne Graham, performed well in his replacement role, knocking in two field goals against the Panthers. Brown's replace did not do so well, however. Armstead drew two penalties and was beat numerous times by the Carolina pass rush.

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Rookie Safety Vaccaro Carted Away With Injury

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro was carted off the field with an undisclosed leg/ankle injury after his leg was stuck under a pile up. Vaccaro has been a leader in defensive snap counts and was also one of the Saints' leading tacklers on the season.

His return will be crucial as the Saints' will need his talent and explosiveness going forward.

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Panthers' Defense Too Much For Saints To Handle

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers' defense was just too much for New Orleans offensive line. Drew Brees was sacked six times and also threw and interception as he was often pressured and rushed to make throws. Armstead's performance at left tackle definitely left something to be desired and it's unlikely he will start next week.

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New Orleans Again Have Questionable Play Calling

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Questionable playcalling is kind of becoming a thing with the Saints on offense. We saw way too many misdirection plays and screen passes that were just not working against Carolina's potent offense. Additionally, running it three straight times on New Orleans final offensive possession of the game had a lot of us screaming at the television. I hate to say it, but Sean Payton's play calling seems to have regressed this season.

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Saints Make Playoffs, But No. 2 Seed Not Likely

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans has secured a playoff spot, but getting the No. 2 seed in the NFC and the NFC South title seems unlikely at this point. The Saints host Tampa Bay next week while the Panthers travel to Atlanta.

Still, I guess, anything can happen in the NFL.