Few fanbases have experienced the ultimate highs and lows in the course of mere minutes like those of the New Orleans Saints have. Sunday’s dramatic finish against the Denver Broncos just adds to the list of the many heartbreaks suffered, and the controversy that swelled from the ending of the game has came, but certainly hasn’t passed. At this point, it all goes into the collective emotional bucket of memories that have tried to be suppressed from the past 50 years of the franchise.
The reality is that all of that has to be put aside and the focus must shift to a quick turnaround date with the Carolina Panthers. At 4-5, the Saints certainly have a lot of season left to work with. However, in the past several seasons, we’ve witnessed a complete tailspin by Sean Payton’s squad when they need to deliver most to get into playoff contention.
The good news is that this isn’t last year’s Saints, or anything that closely resembles the 2014 or 2012 team. We’ve repeatedly seen a team that has been extremely close in the locker room, unlike the lackluster leadership evident in 2014’s debacle that led to many players exiting during the following offseason. Rather, we’ve seen players rally around one another like Mark Ingram and most recently rookie Michael Thomas.
We’ve seen a defense that has played better and better, which was the exact opposite of 2012. The lack of resistance shown by then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and company was borderline comical. But this season’s defense is starting to find a better groove. In the first five games, the Saints averaged giving up 33.6 points per game. However, over these past four contests, Dennis Allen’s crew is giving up just 23.75 points/game.
The Saints have a chance to go for a ‘kill shot’ when they play the Panthers. They could hand Ron Rivera’s club their fourth loss in the division, which could absolutely end their hopes to return to the playoffs after being the NFC Champions a year ago. Also, the Saints could sweep Carolina for the first time since 2011. Bragging rights, confidence, and swagger are all something the black and gold could use after the type of loss they suffered.
It won’t be easy, and it won’t be pretty, but the Saints must come out firing on all cylinders to deliver on Thursday Night Football to keep their season alive.