New Orleans Saints: How They Can Defy the Odds and Get to the Playoffs

Nick KostoraContributor IIISeptember 16, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by Greg Hardy #76 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

An 0-2 record may stack the deck even more severely away from the New Orleans Saints' favor, but it would be foolish to count this team out already.

The Saints have proven countless times that adversity will not faze them.

And luckily for New Orleans, the NFC South is going to be one of the most wide-open divisional races all season.

Drew Brees and the Saints offense are simply too good to continue these losing ways, and Week 2 was actually a marked improvement over the team's dismal Week 1 showing.

Lets break down the factors that will lead to a Saints playoff appearance:


Taking Advantage of the Schedule

Next week New Orleans plays a similarly winless team—the Kansas City Chiefs.

After that, the schedule has several favorable matchups that should help New Orleans stay in the playoff race.

  • 3 out of 4 games at home between Weeks 9-12

Playing the NFC East teams is not going to do the Saints any favors, but they must win the lesser games on their schedule to stay in contention.

Few teams are better at home than the Saints, and there are seven games at the Superdome left on the schedule for New Orleans to prove it.


Improved Defensive Play

Drew Brees and the offense did their job to improve in Week 2, but the fact remains that the team has allowed 75 points in just two games of action.

An offense should never have to score at least 35 points each week in order to compete, and yet currently that's what the Saints are asking for.

One interception in two weeks and just three sacks is flat-out not good enough to make the playoffs.

New Orleans looks lost defensively without Jonathan Vilma, and that must change quickly because he is not coming back anytime soon.



Continued Offensive Balance

New Orleans has a plethora of backfield weapons that rarely get any publicity or notoriety, but in Week 2 they showed what kind of balance this team is capable of.

Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram rushed for a combined 163 yards and a touchdown, and Darren Sproles led the team with 128 yards receiving.

This kind of offensive balance should allow the team to stay on the field longer than their quick-strike nature usually allows, and perhaps give the defense more rest and improved performance.

At this point the logic has to be that the longer the offense is on the field, the less time the defense has to screw everything up.


Overall Outlook

The Saints have too much talent not to battle for the NFC South crown.The Falcons and Panthers will likely be vying for the honor as well, and New Orleans must turn out a winning record against divisional foes.

And while it may sound crazy, a lot is actually riding on the rushing game finally living up to its potential.

New Orleans' defense is struggling and needs to stay off the field as much as possible.

More success on the ground means more wins for the Saints.