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New Orleans Saints find themselves in familiar spot, and it hasn’t ended well

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Saints are facing a crucial point in the season at 4-4.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Give the New Orleans Saints a lot of credit, as they’ve climbed out of the depths of an 0-3 record and have managed to win four out of their last five games. However, we’ve seen this story before, and it hasn’t ended so well.

Of the past five seasons, the Saints have been able to climb out of early season holes at 0-3 (2012), 1-2 (2014), and 0-3 (2015) in addition to this year. Somehow, the Saints have managed to rally in each of those years by getting to 5-5 (2012) and 4-4 (2014, 2015, 2016). But that’s where it’s all gone south.

  • 2012 (5-5) - Saints drop home game to 49ers 31-21, lose three straight.
  • 2014 (4-4) - Saints lose to 49ers at home 27-24 in overtime, lose three straight.
  • 2015 (4-4) - Saints fall to Titans at home 34-28 in overtime, lose four straight.
  • 2016 (4-4) - TBD

This important game, for whatever reason, has seen one or two defining moments that have sent the Saints into a tailspin. In 2012, it was the Ahmad Brooks interception returned for a touchdown right before halftime. In 2014, it was a questionable pass interference call that could have given the Saints the win. In 2015, you could point to several moments, but I’d vote for Saints defenders colliding which led to a Delanie Walker touchdown.

2016 finds the Saints in an almost identical situation, and they once again have the luxury of being at home to take on the Denver Broncos (6-3). No doubt it’s a tall task with the defending Super Bowl Champions coming to town. Gary Kubiak’s squad is reeling from a Sunday Night Football loss to Oakland, and find themselves sitting third in the AFC West.

You can look at history and numbers and see that Denver is 8-2 all-time against the Saints. You can also see that New Orleans hasn’t beat the Broncos this millennium in four attempts, with their last victory coming in 1994. If you have that kind of time like I do, then you could look across the Saints in the Sean Payton era and uncover that the CBS broadcast team duo of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (who call Sunday’s game) has seen the black and gold go 4-0 since 2006.

Of course, something has to give. Saints fans have a real reason to cheer for their team, and this has all the makings of the most important game of the season. It’s been said before, and it likely will come back again. However, the reality is this. No matter how the game goes against the Broncos, the Saints have a short week to work with as they travel to take on the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. So, if for some reason they can’t beat Denver, then they’ll have to do something that’s not been done since 2011, sweep the Panthers. This is a team that can’t afford to drop their next two games and play catch-up.