The New Orleans Saints are 3-2, and currently sit second in the NFC South. If the playoffs were to start today, Sean Payton’s team would hold the 6th seed and coincidentally play their division rival, the Carolina Panthers. While the NFL season is still a bit young, there’s a lot of football to played to decide who will compete for Super Bowl LII.
The Saints are starting to catch more of a spotlight these days after essentially being ‘dead in the water’ from their 0-2 start. An actual winning streak happened for New Orleans, and they’ve finally solved for the .500 curse for the first time since 2013. Things certainly feel like they’re shaping up for the black and gold, as their matchup against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7 is without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and cornerback Quinten Rollins. However, the Saints haven’t won at Lambeau since 2006.
Dennis Allen’s defense has been the story over the three wins for the Saints, as they’ve really turned things around.
Throughout the last three games against the Panthers, Dolphins, and Lions, the Saints defense has given up less than 5.0 yards per play to the opposing offense. In that stretch, they’ve also amassed 13 of their 16 sacks for the season to go along with 7 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, and 25 total passes defended.
One large criticism you might be quick to point out is around the third down defense against the Lions, which gave up 9-of-18 conversions (50 percent). Another thing that isn’t reflected in this that was interesting is around the blitzing from Allen and company. Per Pro Football Focus, the Saints blitzed 56.3 percent of the time against the Lions. The previous two games, they had blitzed 45.7 percent (Dolphins) and 42.1 percent (Panthers) of their snaps.
Cam Jordan is among the Top 10 in the league with his 5.0 sacks and should at least be in the running for defensive player of the week (should be in the conversation for the Pro Bowl too), Marshon Lattimore is excelling as a rookie cornerback, and to see this kind of defensive effort is just refreshing for a Saints team that has always been associated with having a porous, bottom of the barrel defense.
Kenny Vaccaro said in post-game locker room interviews that this defense was having fun, and that being over .500 feels good, but added the Saints can't be that team that goes back to .500. “We gotta figure out a way to keep winning."
And that’s what the Saints must focus on now, keeping the momentum going, which seems to be led by a major defensive turnaround.