After a week 16 defeat to the Carolina Panthers in which they gave up the lead in the division as well, the New Orleans Saints now face a must-win scenario in week 17 to even make the playoffs. Having lost three out of their last four games, the Saints have all but collapsed down the stretch. This weekend, though, they take on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that doesn’t have much to play for.
The Saints have seen one of the greatest improvements in NFL history on the defensive side of the ball. Between last year where they gave up over 6,000 yards of offense to this year, where they rank top-5 overall is just astounding. Rob Ryan certainly was not the problem last year in Dallas, that much is true. So, how has a team that remains one of the best defensive units in football collapsed like they have?
In their three most recent losses, the Saints’ offense has managed to put up just 12.0 points per game — 12.0! Drew Brees, the guy that can pass for 4,000 yards in his sleep and 5,000 yards most seasons, can’t score more than 12.0 points per game? I find that incredibly hard to believe. Well, like many have said throughout the year, the Saints’ measly rushing attack has caught up to them. Ranking just 25th in the league on the ground, New Orleans is a one-dimensional offense and everyone knows it.
What happens if the Saints lose to the Bucs this weekend and ultimately give way to the Arizona Cardinals in the race for the final playoff spot? Should their 10-6 season be considered a success, even remotely?
I say absolutely not. Brees finally has a killer defense to back him up but in the waning weeks of this season, he and his offense can’t score touchdowns. I never thought it would come to this for the Saints this year, but it sure has — their offense looks mediocre at best right now — at least, it has in three out of the last four weeks.
If the Saints lose to the Bucs, their season is a complete failure. Furthermore, if the Cardinals win on top of it all and they miss the playoffs, heads will be rolling in New Orleans — mark my words.