METAIRIE, La. ― Five weeks into the NFL season, New Orleans is 3-2 and third in the NFC South.
As of now, that would put the Saints in the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Yet, let's be serious, it's still really early in the season.
Heading into Sunday’s noon divisional showdown at Tampa Bay (3-1), the question has been posed to several players about whether this is a must-win game or not.
By and large, the answer is no. So, while some in WhoDatville are beginning to panic, the team is not.
“There’s no must-win games until you get in a position where you have to win to make the playoffs,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “If you lose this one and win the rest of them, obviously you’re doing pretty good. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s one game at a time and you never want to put too much pressure on yourself.
“It’s a divisional game on the road against a team that’s playing pretty well, who’s 3-1 in contention in this division right now, who we’ve gone back and forth with every time we’ve played.”
The Saints are a game behind the Falcons, but Atlanta has a game in hand with its win against New Orleans on Sept. 26. At 3-1, the Bucs are a half game ahead of the Saints.
Nevertheless, there’s a mishmash of teams at 3-2 and 2-3 – eight teams total – and no team is undefeated. So, there’s still plenty of time. Keeping pace, as long as the Saints continue to win, won’t be a problem.
“It’s Week 6 so there’s still a lot of football left to play,” right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. “You have 11 games left. Would we prefer to get on a winning streak? Absolutely. We’d feel a lot more confident and comfortable with where we’re at once we’re able to string together a couple of games that feel like Saints football.”
But to think that the team is pleased with where they’re at would be a false assumption. They’re not and whether this week is a must-win or not, they’d like to break out of this early-season funk.
“We’re not satisfied with where we’re at,” Stinchcomb said. “We’re aware we’re leaving plays on the field and there’s areas of the game that have to improve for us to reach the goals that we’ve set.”