The New Orleans Saints finally lost a game, and it’s arguable that some of the national NFL power rankings overreacted. While most rankings dropped the Saints just one spot, some seemed to be waiting for New Orleans to trip up and almost took the Saints out of the top five. Here’s the roundup:
Absence of LT Terron Armstead an underrated story. New Orleans could be vulnerable without him against good defensive teams like Dallas.
We’re No. 1 in: Scoring points. The Saints are tied for second in the NFL, at 34.9 points per game. But their scoring efficiency is on a historic pace. Despite their stunning offensive flop at Dallas in Week 13, the Saints have scored points on 58.1 percent of their drives this season, which is on pace to be the highest rate by any NFL team since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978. The record of 53 percent belongs to the 2007 Patriots, who went 16-0. — Mike Triplett
No one should overreact to the loss Thursday night in Dallas. It was only one game, after all. But no one should ignore it, either. If the Saints don’t have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, it matters. It’s not that they can’t go to L.A. and win the NFC title game; they can. It’s more about the lost advantage of not having the game in New Orleans. The offensive performance against the Cowboys also highlighted the lack of another major threat in the passing game if an opposing defense somehow manages to thwart Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Life in the NFL is tough at times. The Saints’ loss on a Thursday night at Dallas wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. But now, unless the Rams lose at Chicago this week, New Orleans is looking at the very real possibility of having to go on the road if they make the NFC championship game, even with a 14-2 finish. If a 14-2 Saints team loses a conference championship game on the road, that’s a really rough ending to a great season. Yet, it seems like a reasonable prediction.
What was that? The Saints’ offense completely lost its rhythm and flow in Dallas for the first time all season. They need to use a shot at Week 1 vengeance against the Bucs as a get-well soon game all-around.
Entering Week 13, the New Orleans Saints were the hottest team in the NFL—winners of 10 straight. The Saints hadn’t lost since falling at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all the way back in Week 1.
That streak ended in resounding fashion Thursday night.
The final score of this game doesn’t fully indicate how soundly the Saints were outplayed by the Cowboys. New Orleans was outgained by 132 yards and managed just 176 yards of total offense in the game.
Most weeks, that’s a so-so half for Drew Brees and Co.
Davenport wondered how the Saints will respond after such a lackluster display:
“Maybe this will turn out to be a good thing. A wake-up call of sorts that spurs another string of victories, just as that home loss to the Buccaneers in the season opener did. But the aura of invincibility the Saints had built up over the last 10 games was shattered at Jerry World, and it’s hard to view a team that was held under 200 total yards as the best in the NFC, let alone the NFL. So, out of the top spot they fall.”
According to Sobleski, the Cowboys may have uncovered the secret to stifling their potent attack:
“The Saints (to the surprise of many) stumbled against the Dallas Cowboys after three straight dominant performances against inferior teams. The Cowboys may have provided the rest of the league with a template to attack Drew Brees and Co.: Drop seven into zone coverage and create pressure through multiple stunts and defensive line movement. Fundamentally sound defense won the day.”