Forecast: 2017 Saints are officially Super Bowl contenders

Saints beat the Bills for seventh straight win


You want words to describe what the New Orleans Saints did to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon?

Alderaan was more competitive versus the Death Star in Star Wars than the Bills were during the Saints 47-10 destruction of Buffalo. For Bills fans it probably felt like it was a game of Clue and the Saints went into the conservatory with a lead pipe and did awful things. Around these parts, we aren’t Bills fans, so it was magical. The Saints in my lifetime have had two teams (2009 and 2011) that were truly capable of winning a Super Bowl, in 2017 they have another.

The Saints scored 47 points in a game where Drew Brees wasn’t even a major reason why. The Saints finished with 298 yards on 48 carries and would have had 300 yards rushing if not for kneel downs to end the game. The Saints running game trampled the Bills so thoroughly with third-string running back Trey Edmunds putting the cherry on Sunday afternoon with a 48-yard touchdown stroll.  

At one point in the second half the Saints ran the ball 24 straight times. 24! The 2017 Saints for three hours turned into the 1990s Nebraska Cornhuskers and Buffalo played the role of some sad helpless Big 12 school. The Saints had a 10-play 94-yard drive that involved not a single pass and was capped with Drew Brees 7 yard rushing touchdown. The best part was Terron Armstead crushing that poor Bills defender so hard I think Terron took his will to live so Drew could score. Going into Sunday the Bills were a top 10 defense against the run; they finished it 25th. 

The Saints have invested free agent money, first round picks, and traded away assets to build, if the not best offensive line in the NFL, then surely the deepest. They have managed to survive injuries to both tackles, at guard, and haven’t really missed a beat. 

The 2017 Saints have built an offense that doesn’t need Drew Brees to be Superman every week as Brees was just 18 of 25 for 184 yards. He had some really nice throws on some third downs, but for the most part was playing the role of Alfred the Butler from Batman; just serving the ball to running backs. Brees is going to have some great moments in 2017, but the Saints not needing him to do magic tricks every week changes everything. 

Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are now on pace for 2,940 yards from scrimmage. The 2017 Saints will jam the ball down your throat and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Ingram was the first player in 2017 to have over one hundred yards rushing and score three touchdowns in the same game. Ingram is having the best season of his career and now that the Saints actually have a good defense, expect his carries to increase as the season enters December. Alvin Kamara is everything the NFL draft experts thought Christian McCaffrey was going to be. Kamara totaled 138 yards and a score and his body control and slipperiness reminds me of former Saints great Dalton Hilliard, but with sprinter’s speed. The tandem of Ingram and Kamara is lethal and good luck to defenses committing all their resources to shutting down the running game and then hoping to stop Drew Brees. How good was the Saints offense Sunday? On a day where the Saints ran for 298 yards, Michael Thomas’ nine grabs for 117 was an afterthought. 

While the Saints offense was busy piling up 482 yards, the Saints defense was holding the Bills to 198 total yards. It’s weird to say and national experts haven’t quite figured it out, but if a team doesn’t have a good quarterback and good receivers, they aren’t scoring over 20 points against the Saints. This defense is simply very good. The secondary is lock down and this young group is brimming with confidence. 

I’ll let Vonn Bell give you my favorite post-game quote from Sunday: “We’re like bandits. We’re taking everything." After a decade of mostly terrible defense, I never thought we’d see a Sean Payton defense wrecking offenses so badly that they bench their quarterbacks, but here we are. Let the national media fawn over Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or Minnesota. None of them are better than the Saints. 

Winning a Super Bowl takes a great team and good luck. The 2009 Saints thought Tracy Porter might be lost for the season in a game in St. Louis, but he missed six weeks and returned for the playoffs to become a legend. The 2009 Saints also needed a bunch of Adrian Peterson fumbles and a really awful Brett Favre decision on the road to a Lombardi. No one can predict what’s going to happen rest the of 2017, but if it takes a great team plus luck to win a Super Bowl, I’m 100 percent sure the Saints have half the formula to do it. 

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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