NFL New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints’ Week 17 In Review And What’s Ahead

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Week 17 In Review And What's Ahead

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Just like that, the 2013 NFL regular season is finished.

With only 17 weeks of regular season action for football fans to enjoy, NFL football seemingly passes us by in just the blink of an eye. The period of time between the end of the Super Bowl in February and opening kickoff of the next season later that year in September feels like an eternity to some.

Like the other seasons before it, this particular one had no shortage of action, upsets and drama. Dez Bryant had plenty of drama filled moments, being shown along the sidelines numerous times venting his frustrations and calling for the ball more often. You would think a couple of seasons in the big leagues would teach him how to grow up, but here we are.

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos each set new records this season as well. Manning broke the single season passing record, previously held by Drew Brees, by throwing for 5,477 yards and surpassing the Brees by just one yard. The high-flying Broncos offense also smashed the single season points record, 589 and previously held by the New England Patriots, by finishing the season with 603 total points scored.

Manning and the Broncos are just scary good right now, and I would hate to be any team that has to face off against them in the postseason.

Also, with the end of the regular season comes black Monday, the day where coaches on the hot seat find out whether or not they’ll keep their position into the next season. Former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak was the first to go even before the season ended, and Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski was the latest to get fired after the Browns lost their season finale.

Word on the street is that Mike Shannahan of the Washington Redskins will be let go after the Redskins finished with a losing record for the third time in four years. That is a tough deal for a former two-time Super Bowl winning coach. Hopefully he will land elsewhere.

Thankfully, however, the New Orleans Saints were able to secure a playoff spot with a season ending victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though they’ll have to take to the road, Saints fans can be happy that the offense seemed to come alive after a two-game losing streak.

Here now is a look back at New Orleans' Week 17 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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Rookie Safety Vaccaro Placed On IR

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After playing for well over a majority of the snaps on defense, rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro was placed on the IR list earlier this week after having injured his ankle the previous week. He was a vital part of Rob Ryan's defensive unit, was versatile, hard hitting and a leading tackler for the team.

His presence will definitely be missed in the week's to come.

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Multiple Saints' Players Make Pro Bowl

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints continue to show that they are a talented team by continually sending players to the Pro Bowl. This year, New Orleans will have five representatives at the NFL's version of the all-star game. Drew Brees was an obvious selection, but also representing New Orleans will be Ben Grubbs, Jahri Evans, Jimmy Graham and Cameron Jordan.

Jordan's selection was particularly noteworthy, as he was the only defensive player for the Saints to be selected as he was having what many called a breakout year. The sky is the limit for him in the years to come.

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Brees Has Stellar Week 17 After Appearing On Injury Report

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Brees had a stellar day behind center against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brees threw for 381 yards, four touchdowns and surpassed 5,000 passing yards in a season for the fourth time in his career. He will be an obvious first ballot selection to the Hall of Fame when his time comes.

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Saints' Offense Comes Alive

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Brees, the offense also seemed to come alive after having struggled the previous two weeks. Granted, the team was playing at home in their beloved Superdome, but it was nice to see them play the way we know they can. Hopefully they can take this type of play with them into the playoffs as a wild card contender.

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Saints Make Playoffs As Wild Card, Will Travel To....

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans will travel to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs as a wild card team. Their woes on the road have been apparent this season and having to play in a potentially cold, outside game in Philadelphia does have me a bit concerned, but I think behind Brees, Sean Payton and Rob Ryan they will collectively rise to the occasion.