In case you missed it, things have already started looking up for the Saints after their disappointing Thursday night loss to the Packers, and they didn't even have to do anything.
That's because every other team in the NFC South lost their season opening game yesterday. The Bucs were downed by the Lions, the Falcons had their wings clipped by Chicago and the Panthers fell just short against Arizona, despite Cam Newton's best efforts.
That means - you guessed it - the Saints are in first place! Instead of playing in one of the toughest and most competitive NFL divisions, it turns out the NFC South is looking just mediocre at this point. It's the only division without a winner. So a loss to the Packers, the best team in the league, isn't looking like such a big deal. Woohoo! Check out the standings, it's pretty impressive stuff:
|NFC South||W||L||T||Pct||PF||PA||Net Pts||TD||Home||Road||Div||Pct||Conf||Pct||Non-Conf||Streak||Last 5|
|New Orleans Saints||0||1||0||.000||34||42||-8||4||0-0||0-1||0-0||.000||0-1||.000||0-0||1L||0-1|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||1||0||.000||20||27||-7||2||0-1||0-0||0-0||.000||0-1||.000||0-0||1L||0-1|
The other good news is that both Atlanta and Tampa Bay didn't look as good as advertised. Of course, we're saying the same thing about the Saints so does it really mean anything? We expect the Saints to fix their problems so why shouldn't we expect the same from the other NFC South teams? The Panthers, on the other hand, look better than expected.
So in this division we've got three playoff caliber teams currently underachieving and the Panthers looking surprisingly better than originally thought. Parity is alive and well in the NFC South. At this rate, I'd expect everyone to meet in the middle and the final standings to be one giant fustercluck of mediocrity where a 9-7 record takes it.
Okay, I know it's just one week and I'm being a bit hyperbolic. Humor me, will ya!? My point is that the road to the playoffs may not be anywhere near as long and difficult as planned and it may not even take twelve or thirteen wins to clinch. Or...wait...maybe it means it's going to be harder for the Saints to get into the playoffs? Ah crap...