This is a question that many New Orleans Saints fans are asking themselves as their team heads into the bye week this week with a 6-3 record and are not in the lead in their division.
Their three losses this season have caused them to fall behind the Falcons for the lead in the NFC South, but the season is still young and the Saints have a lot more games to go in order regain the lead and defend their title in the playoffs.
A couple of things plagued the Saints to start the season.
First, they couldn’t help but turn the ball over at critical times in games. Quarterback Drew Brees was doing some things that he had never done before, and that was make critical mistakes when the team needed a drive to win the game. In their last two games, the Saints have eliminated those turnovers and won those games in fine fashion.
The defense has struggled as well, but once safety Darren Sharper returned to the lineup, things have seemed to change. The Saints played much better and Sharper even got a key turnover in the Saints' game against the Steelers. Perhaps having him back will make a lot of difference on defense.
The running game has had it’s ups and downs this season. Running back Pierre Thomas has spent almost the entire season sidelined with an injury, and it looks like he may never see the field again for the Saints. They do have rookie Chris Ivory and he’s been seeing a lot of carries, but aside from some strong yardage games, Ivory has not been putting up any points on the board, and this is a problem.
The Saints lost running back Reggie Bush early in the season, and this has been something that has contributed to their problems in the running game. Without a threat at the running back position, teams have been able to stack the box up on Brees and put some pressure on him, forcing him into making mistakes which cost the team some wins.
Getting Bush back will be a huge plus for this team.
As mentioned, the return of Sharper has been a huge help to the Saints defense, and as long as he and other key members of the defense stay healthy, the Saints should be okay. They have some tough games ahead, but if things keep going like they have these past two games, this team could end up having a lot of success.
So will the Saints end up making the playoffs and getting back to the Super Bowl? Right now, it’s tough to tell. The three losses really showed how vulnerable the Saints were, but if they can get on a winning streak, get that running game straight and put it together right, then there is no reason to think why they can’t make a return trip to the Super Bowl at the end of this season.
As long as key players stay healthy, the Saints should win a lot more games.