The New Orleans Saints fell to 6-2 after a 26-20 loss at the hands of the now 5-4 New York Jets. This wasn't the type of loss that pundits should consider a fluke; this was a thorough beat down by a team that was superior on both lines of scrimmage.
Quarterback Drew Brees faced pressure most of the game but wasn't without fault himself. Self-inflicted mistakes, coupled with erratic play at times, helped spearhead this costly Saints loss. Being as this is a copycat league, you can expect for the rest of the teams on the schedule to find out exactly how physical the Saints are.
When a team gets punched in the mouth and tries to finesse its way back, you can bet teams are salivating at the thought of lining up across them. Physicality is an attribute that evens the playing field. It can take a mediocre team (like the Jets), as far as overall talent, and turn it into a championship contender.
It’s one thing to try to outscheme a team, as the Saints do—it's another to trade body shots with a heavyweight and have efficient execution be the difference.
Do any of you—at the moment—have confidence that the Saints can travel to Seattle (Seahawks), San Francisco (49ers) or even Carolina (Panthers) and go blow for blow with three of the league's most physical teams in the playoffs?
All three of those teams are like the Jets on steroids, figuratively speaking. The Jets completed eight passes (on 19 attempts) and beat the Saints much more convincingly than the New England Patriots did.
Conversely, the Saints completed 30 passes (on 51 attempts), piled up a flashy 382 yards passing and left with two black eyes, a bloodied nose and a split lip.
I'm sure most of you saw the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seahawks. The winless Bucs traveled to Seattle and established a 21-0 lead in a place where the Seahawks are deemed virtually unbeatable.
The Bucs lined up and bullied the bully with hard-nosed, physical play (38 carries for 205 yards). But instead of tucking its tail between its legs, Seattle punched back to the tune of 35 carries for 198 yards.
Both teams are known for their physical defenses, but both offensive coordinators could've cared less. This is the type of play the Saints will see in the playoffs. Does anyone think they are prepared for it?
It's time for the Saints brass to have an introspective look at itself...
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It was just a few weeks ago that most penciled the Saints in as the foregone winners of the NFC South. If you follow this column, you'd know that the Panthers have been touted as the most talented team in the division for much for the season.
Now that their play is starting to match their talent, it's hard not to say the Saints are in trouble. The Panthers are 10th in rushing offense, while third in overall defense. Furthermore, they are second against the run, and eighth against the pass.
This is the type of balance that even the Jets can't claim.
After destroying the Falcons, 31-10, in a game where they didn't have their best stuff offensively, the Panthers are now one game out of first place in the division and breathing down the Saints' necks.
The Panthers must now travel to San Francisco and play a 49ers team is a mirror image of themselves.
The Falcons continue to cling on to hopes that they will make the playoffs. They must now win at least eight games in a row to even have a shot at possibly getting a wild-card slot. The only problem for Atlanta is it has yet to win two games in a row.
The aforementioned Bucs lost that heartbreaker to Seattle but showed they have some talent on their squad. Too bad moral victories don't count in the win column, or else Tampa would claim both the Saints and Seahawks as victims.
Time to get ready for the draft, Tampa...
Some of the most prominent names on the roster have ailments. It's to be expected at this time of year, so it shouldn't be used as an excuse. Colston was a surprise scratch, but with the way he's been playing, who really even noticed?
The best player in the secondary, Jenkins, needs to return soon. His versatility allows for the defense to disguise coverage. The Saints can line him up at both safety spots, outside linebacker and nickel corner. He can blitz, cover and tackle.
His range is superb, and his athleticism is extraordinary. It's hard to imagine that he was labeled as a bust prior to this season.
Harper was enjoying a similar resurgence, so his return could only be of benefit.
Running back Darren Sproles was injured in the Jets game. His loss sent the offense into disarray. If he's not available, Travaris Cadet should be allowed to show what he can do. He's a bigger back (6'1", 210 lbs) with a similar skill set to Sproles.
Is it time to start imagining that the entire Saints offensive line is dealing with injury, or illness, to explain its poor play?
Let's go with scurvy as an excuse. When people had this disease they became very weak. Something that could most certainly describes the line's play against the Jets.
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