Playoff run starts now for Saints

Winning record for first time this season within reach this week

            After an 0-3 start it appeared the New Orleans Saints 2016 season appeared all but done. I asked if it was time to write off the 2016 as a loss. I even joked a few weeks ago about former Saints head coach Jim Mora’s famous high-pitched “Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs?” tirade, in regard to this team’s post-season chances.

            The odds say there is a greater than 90 percent chance that teams that start 0-2 do not advance. According to, since 2007, only seven of the 75 teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs. That’s only a 9.3% success rate.

            But since then, New Orleans has gone 4-1. At the midway point of the season, the team is at 4-4. With eight games to go, several injured players are making it back to the playing field. However, injuries and potential suspensions could disrupt their postseason goals.

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            The archrival Atlanta Falcons sit atop the division at 6-3. Having not had their bye week yet, they’ve played one more game than the rest of their NFC South competitors. Thus, they are a game and a half ahead of the Saints in the rankings.

            Of the Saints’ final eight games, four are against NFC South rivals. Unfortunately, three of those are on the road. The Saints split games with Tampa Bay, but must go to Carolina and Atlanta.

            The season-ending injury to starting middle linebacker James Laurinaitis will be a major concern going forward. The linebacker corps has had to deal with multiple injuries this season, including the diminished role of Stephone Anthony, who led the team in tackles as a rookie last season.

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            Word leaked this week that safety Kenny Vaccaro had a positive test for Adderall, a stimulant banned by the NFL unless players receive prior approval from the league to use it. The league is testing a second sample, so he will be eligible to play until it comes back. If he is found to have used Adderall without approval, he will face a four-game suspension.

            That’s the biggest of the bad news facing the team.

            On the bright side, first-round pick Sheldon Rankins made his NFL debut in last week’s win over the 49ers. As he gets up to speed, he will be a major force in pressuring opposing offensives and plugging a big gap on the defensive line.

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            If defensive coordinator Dennis Allen can continue to turn this team around, it will be one of the all-time great coaching stories in league history.

            On the other side of the ball, the Saints again have the league’s top passing offense, and their wide receiving corps of Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Brandon Coleman are considered by many to be among the best, if not the best, in the NFL. None of the players are older than 24. That’s exciting, not only for this year, but also for several seasons to come. Thomas, a second-round draft pick, is making waves as a potential rookie of the year.

            No Saints fan wants to see the team playing mediocre football. The first half of the season was a roller coaster of emotion, but the team is trending in the right direction. This week, the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos come to the Superdome to face the Saints. No doubt a win here, to get above .500, would be a huge momentum builder going into the back half of the season.

            “Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs?”

            You’re damn right I am. At this point, this team deserves it.



New Orleans Saints remaining 2016 schedule

Date                 Time                  Opponent

Nov 13             Noon                   Broncos

Nov 17            7:25 p.m.              Panthers

Nov 27             Noon                     Rams

Dec 4               Noon                     Lions

Dec 11             Noon                  Buccaneers

Dec 18           3:05 p.m.               Cardinals

Dec 24             Noon                Buccaneers

Jan 1                Noon                     Falcons


*Home games in bold



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