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What We Learned: Saints can beat any team on any given Sunday, including themselves

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Self-inflicted wounds tell the story of this matchup, as the Saints fell to the Bucs 24-31 in Week 17.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

You have to give credit to the Bucs and Jameis Winston for squeezing out the W on Sunday.

Though while I mentioned Winston was playing good football despite the turnovers, I didn’t expect renditions of lost the ball Lewis, Same play same sideline Crawley, and Party with me P.J. to make an appearance in Week 17.

I thought the Saints had ironed these issues out in the first few games of the season.

Oh, and sure the offense saw an uptick in 3rd down percentage (50% vs. Tampa), but that’s to be expected against a team you face twice a year. It wasn’t an improvement by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s pretty obvious now that the offense doesn’t have enough weapons to threaten every area of the field as they did in years past, and it’s not allowing them to sufficiently take advantage of the gift wrapped presents the defense has been providing all season.

In fact, the defense played admirably forcing three turnovers, BUT they dropped at least three others.

“At some point in the game, I feel like whatever their best punch was – it should not have been enough for them to get a win against us. Again, that’s on us. Everything that we did – we weren’t able to capitalize on some turnovers. At the end of the day, there were turnovers left on the field and that’s on us. I think I missed a sack. I could’ve had a couple more pressures – that’s on me. There’s a chance to make more plays and I take pride in everything that we do as a defense. I think we played well in some aspects of the game and we have to watch this film, clean up some stuff (because) again, it’s on us.” - Cam Jordan

It’s interesting that had Manti Te’o made that INT, that’s one more possession for the offense and we’re looking at his play differently. Those are plays he’ll have to make when they present themselves in the future to keep from being looked at as a liability.

The same can be said about Ken Crawley’s 5th dropped INT of the year. If he makes that catch, that’s yet another possession for the offense and we aren’t discussing the last play of the game.

I absolutely love what the defense has been doing this year and how Dennis Allen is putting these guys in position, but if you went back and watched all 16 games, you’d see the defense left at least 12 other turnovers on the table.

I have a gripe with those missed plays, because even though the offense still has Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara, the defense is now the heart, soul, and swag of this team, and I need them to start capitalizing on mistakes.

If the ball hits your hands, catch it and make the play, as it’s become all too obvious the offense needs the help/extra possessions this year.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • If Tommylee Lewis is returning punts next year, my name is Clarence B. Timeortwo.
  • Saints are division champs for the first time since 2011 while also making the playoffs for the first time since 2013 as the #4 Seed.
  • Kamara on KR = Juice on STs that wasn’t there before.
  • Marshon Lattimore looks to have either hit a wall or coordinators have gotten keen on what types of routes to use to attack him. His play has looked sluggish to my eyes since returning from the ankle.
  • Getting Trey Hendrickson back will be important. The entire D-line looked gassed on the last few snaps, and you could even hear the commentator say, “Winston has all day to throw.” That rotation is important and has been weakened every week since Alex Okafor went down.
  • Saints need a strong safety that is good not only in the box, but also 15-20 yards off the ball too. Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell are the same player for the most part, and the Saints could use an upgrade there.
  • Marcus Williams is coming on strong. I remained steadfast on my opinion that he’d either start to turn it on late in the year or next season in his 2nd year. He’s got range and ball skills, and outside of the dropped INT in preseason - when the ball hits his hands “issa catch” Congrats on your first multi-INT game, @babymagik32

Alas, it’s not all doom and gloom despite this article people. On the contrary, it’s probably not that big of an issue considering we won 11 games in the strongest division in the NFC. It’s not like teams haven’t been trying to stop us and magnify these issues all season, they have, but have only been successful when we’ve assisted by sabotaging ourselves. True, it is very hard to beat a team three times in a season, but we beat the Panthers convincingly on both occasions by two scores. We just match up with them well, and while I’m worried about the combination of Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey, I also realize their production is dependent on the QB getting him the ball, and Cam Newton has not fared well against us this year. It’s officially playoff football time folks, and I do believe the Saints can end up hosting the NFC Championship at home this year if they play up to their ability. Happy New Year people, and enjoy your week...Who Dat!