The New Orleans Saints are having the rarest of NFL seasons in 2017: they’re the only team in the league’s long history to lose their first two games and then proceed to win eight in a row. Before this past Sunday, the last time the Saints had lost was September 17. Yes, that’s well over two months ago. It’s no surprise then, that the almost forgotten bitter taste of defeat has sent many Saints fans into a bit of a panicked frenzy: The sky is falling! What is going on? We looked horrible! Brees is old! We’re doomed!
I have a message for you, Who Dat Nation:
The Saints are 8-3, in first place in the NFC South and by most metrics, poised for a playoffs run. Do you remember the last time we could say that? Oh, I know you do, it was four years ago, and if you’re a spoiled 21st century human being like me, four years might as well be a century!
If I know some of you that have been shaking in your boots since last Sunday’s loss in Los Angeles, you probably want some tangible evidence that the Saints are fine, right? Okay, I can help you with that.
First of all, let’s look at the insane path the Saints’ playoffs chances have taken to get where they are now, courtesy of our friends at numberfire.com:
Here are the week to week numbers represented on the chart:
Of course, these are numbers from only one source, so they may not have fully soothed your fears. Let’s check out the current playoff odds written by Football Outsiders in their collaboration with ESPN. According to FO/ESPN, right now the Saints have the third-best odds to make the postseason in the NFC, behind the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Here is their writeup:
Chances of making the playoffs: 96.7 percent
Chances of getting the No. 1 seed: 4.8 percent
Chances of getting a bye week: 21.5 percent
Chances of Super Bowl LII appearance: 16.0 percent
Chances of Super Bowl LII championship: 9.4 percent
The Saints passed New England to rank as our No. 1 offense after Week 12, but their defense fell to No. 10 after their injury-riddled secondary allowed big games to Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff. The Saints are the only NFC team with two rivals for their division title, but they also have the easiest remaining schedule of the NFC contenders. Although they must face Atlanta both at home and away, the Saints get to host Carolina for a rematch and the Jets for what should be an easy victory. The Saints win the NFC South in 78.3 percent of our simulations, and if they beat Carolina on Sunday, that goes up to 90.8 percent. A Week 17 game in Tampa Bay may not even end up meaning much.
Plenty of great nuggets in that piece: When is the last time that the Saints defense “fell” and it was to “number 10?” What is this, the planet Mars? Is it heaven? Is it Iowa? Nope, it’s just New Orleans, in 2017. Offensively, the Saints are now rated “number one” in the NFL according to FO/ESPN, and that is despite their doo-doo performance against the Rams. And you read that right, should the Saints beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in The Dome, the probability of a home-playoff game becomes a near certainty with four games left against the Falcons (twice), New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, the team has to go out and win on the field, but the sky isn’t falling, not by any stretch of the imagination, in fact this season is just getting started.
How will the Saints finish the 2017 Regular Season?
This poll is closed
5-0 and 13-3 overall baby. Go big or go home!
4-1 and 12-4 overall, NFC South champs!
3-2 and 11-5 overall. Wild Card berth
2-3 and 10-6 overall. Wild Card berth, barely
1-4 and 9-7 overall, no playoffs. Hold my burger while I cry