In 2009 we all went on the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl ride and picked up something along the way - getting those playoff games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome meant everything in route to the teamís first NFL championship.
I have always felt that the 2011 team that finished 13-3 was better than the 2009 squad, but they had to play a divisional round playoff game on the road in San Francisco and it ended in a bitter loss.
Last Sunday’s 35-17 win over Buffalo was a moment to take in a good dose of just how good Drew Brees is as a football player and just how much the Saints defense has improved in just one year. It gives this franchise a legitimate shot to again play on Super Bowl Sunday.
Brees completed 26 of his 34 passing attempts and he threw five touchdown passes.
Playing against one of the more stout defensive lines in the game, Brees was masterful in connecting to 10 different receivers in his 26 completions. He didn’t throw an interception in the game.
Defensively, the Saints showed why Rob Ryan should be the Defensive Coordinator of the Year. The Buffalo Bills had been one of two teams to score 20 points or more in every game this season. The Saints defense held them to just 17 points and under Payton’s regime the Saints are 43-3 when they hold opponents to 20 points or less.
However, the win was not without flaws and it got under the skin of Sean Payton afterwards.
Placekicker Garrett Hartley, who had been a standout for this team early in the season, missed two field goal attempts and again there was inconsistent play along the offensive line.
The Saints are not a team that can run the ball with great success and what bothers me the most is the amount of leakage this football team has in pass protection.In seven games, the Saints have given up 18 quarterback sacks. They gave up just 26 total in 16 games in 2012.If not for the athleticism of Brees, those numbers would be much higher.
Every team has a flaw and over the next few weeks we will get to see how the Saints offensive line matches up against some of the more physical and talented defensive units in the league in the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers.
The Saints must keep winning if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs. You don’t want to travel to the Pacific Northwest in January to play the Seahawks or again play the 49ers in San Francisco. Traveling to Green Bay in January for a playoff game would also be tough.
Under Payton, the Saints have† yet to lose a home playoff game. That’s something to play for.