I tend to be a pessimist by nature, so when I got excited about the Saints' four-game win streak, it must've been impressive. That's not going to happen this time -- regardless of how well the Saints look from week to week. This team has proven themselves capable of smoking any given team from week to week. At the same time, they are just as likely -- more, even -- to lose convincingly, dramatically and often, painfully.
As the old cliche goes, in the NFL you are what you are. The Saints are 5-6, an average team. They have clear, obvious flaws that, when exploited, make them prone to sizable defeat. Until they correct these flaws, they aren't going to go anywhere.
Anyways, there's your Tuesday (mid)morning shot of hatred.
And at least they're (reasonably) healthy.
Here's what other people are saying about the Saints game:
* John DeShazier, Times-Picayune:
You want to grab them by the shoulder pads and shake, smack them upside the helmets, unleash a primal, earsplitting scream and demand they spit out their mouthpieces and give you a clear, logical answer.
Because you know the Saints who showed up to play Carolina on Sunday afternoon can be like that more often than they have.
You know they can be very, very, very, very good -- as they were during the administering of a 31-6 beatdown at Bank of America Stadium -- a lot more than they have been in 2007. You know they can be, and should be, better than the 5-6 record they own today, which has them two games behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South Division and, likely, relegates them to winning the division if they want to make the playoffs.
Maybe it was the offensively challenged Carolina Panthers, but the Saints defense -- which has been anything but a model of consistency this up-and-down season -- stepped up when it had to Sunday.
While the offense got most of the attention in blowing the doors out with a 21-point explosion in the third quarter of a 31-6 win over the Panthers, the defense came up with its finest performance.
A big fourth-down stop by the defense on the first play of the second quarter turned the game in the Saints' favor and the offense did the rest in turning a 3-0 deficit into a 31-6 lead by the end of the third period.
But the defense did much more than stop fullback Brad Hoover on a fourth-and-one play at the Saints' 33. They allowed season lows in points (six) and total yards (195), collected a season-high four takeaways and held the Panthers to just three of 13 on third-down conversions.
* Les East, The Advocate:
Coach Sean Payton is less focused on how the Saints' 31-6 victory at Carolina on Sunday affects his team in the standings than he is on duplicating the things that led to the victory.
The Saints caused a season-high four turnovers and finished plus-3 in turnovers. They converted 11-of-18 third downs and allowed the Panthers to convert just 3-of-13.
If New Orleans (5-6) can come close to duplicating those numbers against Tampa Bay on Sunday in the Superdome, and in the four games that follow, the playoff picture can sort itself out.