Think back three weeks ago, and every thing seemed pretty much laid out, plain and simple. The Vikings and Saints were going to meet in the NFC Championship game, and the Colts and Chargers were going to meet in the AFC Championship game.
Boy, has that changed.
Coming off being the two most-feared teams in the league, the Colts and Saints have been silenced the past three weeks, as they have basically taken their foot off the gas and stalled so close to the finish line.
Although they didn't get their glorified 16-0 season, both teams are still forces not to be messed with. Peyton Manning is playing great football along with Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, and the Saints are still rolling along offensively despite a recent collapse.
So, who is in more trouble, though?
According to ESPN, it's the Saints. I tend to agree with them.
The Colts have suffered two losses, but they haven't been real confidence-reducers by any means. The first loss coming last week against the Jets at home was, of course, tough and full of controversy, but it undoubtedly didn't faze Peyton Manning.
This week's loss at Buffalo was hardly significant. A snow-filled game with the second stringers playing basically just rested the Colts' team for another week and gave them some more planning time.
New Orleans, on the other hand, well, they have every right to be worried.
I remember watching the New Orleans vs. Dallas game two weeks ago thinking, "Wow, Brees looks rattled." This week against Carolina the backups played for the Saints, but that may have been a bad decision.
A smarter thing to do would be to give Brees a fair amount of playing time, at least in the first half, and allow him to get back into that groove and put the Dallas game behind him.
From winning streak to losing streak, New Orleans fans aren't happy. Who can blame them?
Sean Payton had this team set, and all of New Orleans was rocking to the beat of the drum. All of a sudden a shocking loss to Dallas, then Tampa Bay, and followed by another one at Carolina left a sour taste in the mouths of Saints fans.
It's not time to hit the panic button just yet, though. If there is anything more positive to go on, it's that the Saints have next week off.
Practice and rest will be the key, and whoever the Saints get matched up with the following week, expect them to be physically and mentally prepared.
If they are not however, it may be an early exit for New Orleans in the postseason.
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