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Saints still have a shot in the NFC South

The entire division is one large dumpster fire.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The bad news? The New Orleans Saints are playing like hot garbage right now.

The good news? The rest of the NFC South is playing like lukewarm garbage so all four teams in the division are only separated by a single game.

With a 2-5 record, the New Orleans Saints are far from the juggernaut they hoped to be in the offseason. But only a game out of first place, the division is still winnable with a game left to play against each of the Saints’ divisional foes.

The Carolina Panthers beat the Saints earlier this season, but have since traded away Christian McCaffrey and benched Baker Mayfield. That Panthers team was then still good enough to beat Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, who are struggling more on offense than anyone other than Max Kellerman could have predicted. The Atlanta Falcons are an enigma, playing well one week and then poorly the next, but the Saints have already shown an ability to beat the Falcons come crunch time.

But the NFC South’s in-fighting is the least of the Saints’ concerns. The Buccaneers and Falcons have two of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules, while the New Orleans Saints have one of the NFL’s toughest. Even with that light schedule, the Buccaneers were trucked on Thursday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.

That means if the Saints beat the Raiders and the Panthers beat the Falcons on Sunday, all four teams in the division will have identical 3-5 records. As such, 64% of Saints fans polled think the Saints still have shot to win the division.

The fact that the decision is still up for grabs likely played into head coach Dennis Allen’s decision-making to leave Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback. Dalton seems to keep the offense playing at a decent - albeit not exciting - tempo and involves RB Alvin Kamara into the offense more than Jameis Winston did. This decision could play into why Saints fans are slowly starting to feel more confident about the overall direction of the team.

Hopefully the outlook for Andy Dalton, and the New Orleans Saints as a whole, continues to trend in the right direction. If the Saints play poorly again - regardless of whether they ultimately win or lose - the seat under Dennis Allen could start to get warm and another quarterback change could be coming.

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