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You'll forgive me if I'm not inspired by the Saints after this disgusting performance.
For much of the first half of the season, the New Orleans Saints (5-3) looked almost unstoppable. Even with a questionable defense, Drew Brees was putting points on the board like a man possessed.
Then came an embarrassing three-week stretch that saw the Saints lose to the mediocre Tampa Bay Buccaneers, get blasted by the media for an unnecessary 62-7 hosing of the lowly Colts, and hand the equally lowly St. Louis Rams their first win of the season.
Suffice it to say no one knows what the Saints are going to do. I'll take the safe route and put them at 10-6 and the No. 3 seed.
The Atlanta Falcons (4-3) look to be on the same 10-6 track after a rough start to the season, and I have them taking the No. 6 seed. They aren't quite as strong on the lines this year, but there's still plenty of talent across the roster.
I'm not sold on Matt Ryan's big-play ability, however, and I feel they would have more success reeling him back in and confining him to a system. It wasn't broken last year, so why fix it?
I haven't been able to figure out the Buccaneers (4-3). They've alternated between disastrous and solid in pretty much every way possible. One week, the passing game is nonexistent and Josh Freeman looks lost. The next, the passing game clicks and the Bucs can't move the ball on the ground. I'm just going to throw in the towel and put them at 8-8.
Some of us had a good laugh at the expense of the Carolina Panthers (2-6) when they took Cam Newton at the top of the draft. At this stage, Newton appears to be the real deal, and simply needs some talent around him now.
This team could have a bright future if it proceeds properly from this point, but they'll have to endure some growing pains, and those pains will likely take the form of a 5-11 record this year.