Saints have positioned themselves well for another championship run

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Craig Robertson, Matt Ryan
(Photo: William E. Anthony)

It didn’t take long.

Seconds after the New Orleans Saints wrapped up a 26-18 win in Atlanta, a friend texted me.

“The Saints are not a Super Bowl team.”

It was an interesting take on a team that had just won its 10th in their past 12 games and played five of those games without their future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Thursday night games, other than the fourth preseason game, are the worst the NFL has to offer. They can often be sloppy affairs.

New Orleans played average football and Atlanta not very well but New Orleans emerged with an eight point victory.

The Saints were a touchdown favorite and covered the spread.

Good enough. Or is it?

The theme that somehow the 2019 Saints won’t measure up in the playoffs is an interesting one. Drew Brees is completing 73.8 percent of his passes, just a whisker shy of the 74.4 percent clip he managed one year ago.

The latter number, by the way, is an NFL record for completion percentage in a season. However, the Saints have digressed in a yards per attempt. Last season, Brees averaged 8.2 yards per attempt but he’s down to 7.5 in 2019.

Scoring points has not been a problem lately. New Orleans has scored 26, 34 and 34 points the last three games, two of them on the road.

The Saints defense has been good and at times great. New Orleans held Jacksonville to 6 points, Arizona to 9 and Atlanta to 18.

Defensive end Cam Jordan is on pace for a career year, with 13.5 sacks. Not many are playing the linebacker position better than Demario Davis, who has a pair of sacks, 18 tackles for losses and an interception.

The Saints have won games in a lot of different ways. The Black and Gold captured a couple of shootout games, including 34-28 over the Texans and 34-31 over Carolina, and won defensive struggles over the Cowboys (12-10) and the Jaguars (13-6).

Late in the season, a favorite mantra of a head coach is the following: “We have yet to play our best game.”

If Sean Payton said that this week, he would be correct.

The Saints have weathered injuries and bounced back from a terrible performance at home against Atlanta with three straight victories. His team had a chance to make a major step in the quest for homefield advantage with a win Sunday over the 49ers.

Even after a field goal loss at Baltimore, on the game’s final play, the 49ers look like the biggest challenge New Orleans will face in the regular season.

In many ways, they mirror the Saints.

That is, San Francisco didn’t draft their franchise quarterback but they have invested heavily in the draft in offensive and defensive lineman.

The game could be one of the most physical in the NFL this season.

If the Saints win next week, they will have what amounts to a two-game lead over San Francisco in the race for the top seed in gaining the tiebreaker over the Niners plus they will stay ahead of Seattle and Green Bay.

At the start of a failed regime 22 years ago, former Saints head coach Mike Ditka said, “Find a way, make a way.”

Which is exactly what the 2019 Saints have done.

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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