Saints in London: It's a Bloody Important Game for the Black 'n' Gold

James ReesAnalyst IOctober 21, 2008

It’s unusual to say that a Week Eight game is a do-or-die situation for an NFL squad.  But for the Saints, no truer words can be spoken.

New Orleans squares off against San Diego in London this weekend in what will be the seminal game of the Saints’ season.

Win, and the black and gold have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Lose, and they can start auditioning players for next year. It’s that simple.

A victory against San Diego would even the Saints' record at 4-4 heading into the bye week. A loss would drop them to 3-5 and essentially end their playoff hopes.

Reaching 10 wins after starting the season 4-4 is doable. It’ll be a tough task, but certainly not an insurmountable one. The Saints would have to get on a roll and become one of those “hot” teams with a four or five-game winning streak entering December. 

But reaching 10 wins after starting 3-5 is like trying to keep Pacman off the bottle—it’s just not very realistic.

To make the playoffs, the Saints will need to win no less than 10 games—and even that might not be enough. They play in what is now shaping up to be the most competitive division in the NFL, so a 10-6 record might not cut it. 

The Panthers, Bucs, and even Falcons all have a legitimate shot to win the division. It’ll take a minimum of 10 wins to even be in the discussion.

But what about the schedule? Doesn’t it get easier after the bye? 

Yes, the Saints have a relatively weak second-half schedule, but this is still the NFL, where any team can win on any given day. We just saw the proof this past Sunday in St. Louis’ win over Dallas.

New Orleans simply can’t rely on a easy schedule in the second half to help them make a late-season surge. They’ve got to get things going now against San Diego. A win against the Chargers would do wonders for the team’s confidence as they enter their bye week.

People always say it’s good to go into a bye week on a high note. I think it’s crucial for the Saints to do just that.

So do they have a chance at saving their season against San Diego? I think they do. The Chargers have been as disappointing, if not more, than the Saints through seven weeks.

They were touted as Super Bowl contenders in the preseason. Now they’re facing an uphill battle just to make the playoffs. 

I can tell you one thing: The scoreboard operator’s hand might cramp up by the time this one’s over. It’s going to be a good ole-fashioned shootout between two teams who can play offense, but not much defense. 

The Saints generally do well in offensive-oriented games, mainly because they’ve got the firepower to keep up, as long as Drew Brees is on target. Brees is going to have to get back on track after last week’s stinker in Carolina.

The Saints can’t win if Brees has a bad day. It’s just not possible. He is the tempo-setter, and if he’s off, you can bet the rest of the team is as well. But if he’s on, the Saints can play with any team in the league. 

In the end, no one knows who’s going to win this game. What we do know though, is that if the Saints lose, they can start making vacation plans for January because they certainly won’t be playing football.