The Saints are marching again
Thanks to the Saints, there are no undefeated teams left in the NFL.
Behind a balanced offensive attack and a goal-line stand on defense, New Orleans was able to hand the Falcons their first loss of the year 31-27 on Sunday. This kind of win surely didn't seem possible earlier in the season when New Orleans was wallowing in mediocrity with an 0-4 record.
The offensive line was struggling to protect Drew Brees. Brees was off to his worst start in years, they had no running game and the defense couldn't stop anybody.
Thankfully for New Orleans, they've been able to improve in all of those aspects as the season has progressed. The result has been four wins in their last five games and now, they are only one win away from .500.
In the first four losses, Brees was sacked nine times. In the last five games, he has only been sacked seven times.
With the increased protection, Brees has improved in almost every category since the Saints' tough first month of the season.
In the first four losses, he had 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Since then, he has 15 passing scores to only four picks. His completion percentage has also jumped up 10 percentage points.
And as of late, the Saints finally have balance on offense. In their last two wins against the Eagles and Falcons, they have rushed for at least 140 yards.
Chris Ivory is back healthy, and he made his presence felt against Atlanta--rushing for 72 yards and a score. Mark Ingram is starting to get more carries. He complimented Ivory with 67 yards of his own.
Defensively, they still have problems. They're still giving up a ton of yards on the ground and through the air, but they're beginning to make stops at key moments--something they weren't doing in the first four losses.
They gave up 28 points and 513 yards against the Bucs, but they made two huge goal-line stands that sealed the win. They gave up 447 yards to the Eagles but just 13 points.
And though they gave up 27 points and 408 passing yards to the Falcons, they held them to just 46 rushing yards and made two huge stops at the end of the game to get the win. One of those stops was a goal-line stand.
Another thing that has certainly contributed to the Saints' recent hot-streak has been continuity.
Joe Vitt is finally back for good after serving a six-game suspension for "Bounty Gate." While he was gone, New Orleans was down to an interim interim head coach.
And with the NFL still dealing with appeals, Jonathan Vilma has been able to come back and help out the struggling defense in not just production but in leadership that was lacking in his absence.
Things are certainly clicking for the Saints right now. They still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, but their margin of error is razor-thin.
They will most likely have to finish 5-2 in their remaining seven games to have any shot of clinching a wild card berth.
That kind of run is certainly attainable the way the Saints are playing right now, but it won't be easy. They still have tough home games scheduled against the 49ers and Bucs, and they have to go on the road to play the Falcons, Giants and Cowboys.