A couple of weeks ago the Saints and all of their fans were facing a similar situation as the one today. They had just been demolished by the Seattle Seahawks on the road and questions, as well as heads, were swirling at hundreds of miles per hour. Had the Saints just been exposed? Will they ever win big games on the road? Are the Saints the team that we thought they were?
To our amusement, the Saints put these questions to rest (for the time being) with a blow out win against the Panthers. Faith was reinstalled and all of Who Dat Nation was riding the high horse once again. That horse was quickly chopped from the knees, though, with yet another embarrassing, mysterious loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Everyone and their brother knew that the Saints struggled on the road. Some statistics that prove this notion are Brees' 8.2 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home as compared to 3.7 on the road, 104.3 rushing yards per game at home compared to 74.1 per game on the road, and scoring 32.9 points per game at home and only 18.4 in away games. But not many people expected the Saints to struggle against the 5-8, Kellen Clemens led Rams. Quite frankly, the team and its officials had no clue it was coming either. Post-game interviews were like they have never been before. Some players declined to talk to reporters, and you could just tell by the tone of the voices that agreed to share their views that something needed to change and it needed to be done fast. Sean Payton declared feelings would be hurt and he held truth to his word. Garrett Hartley, a Super Bowl XLIV hero, was cut and replaced with Shayne Graham, who hasn't kicked a field goal since 2012, and Charles Brown, the starting left tackle, was benched for a rookie who hasn't played a snap at left tackle all season in Terron Armstead.
You would think that since Payton is confident enough to make these transactions at this point in the season, there is no reason why the Saints should lose this game. But like the script has been so far this season, nobody can predict in the same realm how this team will show up, especially on the road.
One thing that is fact is that the Saints are a three point underdog to a team that they posterized two weeks ago. Nobody is giving the Black and Gold a chance. In the eyes of the Legitimate Media™, the Panthers are already the de facto NFC South Champions and are the only team standing in the way of the Seahawks' Super Bowl title. Herm Edwards might as well be in the Panthers' PR department because, "the Panthers WILL win this game" as said by the man himself.
Flying under the radar and being discounted are things that the Saints have come to like, I believe, but that doesn't mean that they can just waltz in and play like buffoons as they did in St. Louis. This week, more than ever, the Saints need to prove to the world that they mean business because the outcome of this game will define their season.