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2015 Saints Midseason Review: Expectations vs. Reality

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Eight games through their 2015 season, the New Orleans Saints are perfectly mediocre at 4-4. However, given that the Saints started 1-4, this .500 record feels a lot better than it looks. Did we see this coming? What should we expect from the Saints in the second half of the year?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints are exactly midway through their 2015 season and at 4-4, they're feeling pretty good about what is, let's face it, a mediocre record. The reason they feel good about it however is the fact that the team started 0-3 and looked dead to rights when it was 1-4 after five games. An improbable three-game winning streak later, the Saints are right back in the hunt for an NFC wild card playoffs spot.

After eight games, the Saints are right where I thought they would be: a .500 team. What's interesting to look at however, is how they got here.

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How Good is My Crystall Ball?

This offseason, I wrote this piece predicting the 2015 Saints' weeks 1-4 and this one about weeks 5-8. Don't fret, here's a summary of what I predicted and what actually happened:

2015-Saints Week 1-8

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All Roads Lead to Rome

Just like I predicted, the Saints are 4-4 after eight games...except, I'm not patting myself on the back whatsoever, because the way they got there is anything but what I envisioned. When looking at the table above, here's the one thing that strikes me the most: the 2015 Saints are completely unpredictable.

I can understand the win at home against Dallas, since the Cowboys were playing without quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. On the other hand, there was absolutely no way I'd have thought the Saints would lose to the Bucs at home. Wait, maybe I should have. But who honestly thought they would go on the road a few weeks later and beat the Colts in Indy? Not you, not you, not you.

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What Should We Expect for the Rest of the Year?

The biggest question facing the Saints now is: have they truly found their identity as a team, or are we in for another roller coaster in the second half of the season? Here's a look at New Orleans' remaining schedule, their last eight opponents' current record and my offseason predictions on the Saints' second half of the 2015 regular season.

2015-Saints-2nd Half Schedule

The same fickleness that has the Saints at 4-4 right now is also what could derail the rest of their season. Who among us isn't dreading the humongous letdown that would be a loss to the woeful Tennessee Titans on Sunday in the Superdome? Especially following New Orleans' emotional victory against the Giants last week? After all, we've all seen this movie before: rookie quarterback with average-to-bad team comes into the Superdome, immediately proceeds to look like Joe Montana and leaves town with a head-scratching win.

On the other hand, of the Saints' remaining eight opponents, only two (Atlanta and Carolina) currently have a winning record. Brees and the offense finally seem to be finding their rhythm; Sean Payton's Juicy Fruit are finally starting to work. The defense is...well, the defense is bending and breaking, but at least it's not completely shattering.

What this means is that if the Saints can stay on the roll they're on right now, they have a legitimate chance to close the season with a 6-2 record over eight games and a 10-6 overall mark for the year.

Would 10-6 be enough to get a playoffs wild card spot? It might. If the playoffs started today, the Falcons (6-2) and the Vikings (5-2) would be the wild card teams. In other words, despite their abysmal start to the season, the Saints are only 1.5 games out of the second NFC wild card playoffs spot right now. Who woulda thunk it? Earlier this season, some wannabe writer guy even wondered whether they should tank or not.

But let's not put the cart before the horses here. What is going to happen in the second half of the season? I have no (real) clue. All I know is this: we should enjoy the ride, because these Saints are a whole different animal altogether.