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Forecast: Saints season not lost... yet

The Saints replaced the heartbreak of losing late, with a quick early collapse followed by 3 hours of soul-crushing sadness only a good stiff drink can numb.

NEW ORLEANS — For the first time since 2005, I woke up on a Fall Sunday morning knowing the New Orleans Saints had little to no shot at winning a football game. They, unfortunately, proved me correct by getting crushed 40-29 by the Philadelphia Eagles. 

The Saints replaced the heartbreak of losing late, with a quick early collapse followed by 3 hours of soul-crushing sadness only a good stiff drink can numb.

The Saints replaced the heartbreak of losing late, with a quick early collapse followed by 3 hours of soul-crushing sadness only a good stiff drink can numb.

I'm 45 years old and have watched some HORRIBLE Saints offensive football. I watched the Billy Joes, Wade Wilson, even Aaron Brooks throw a backwards pass to no one in particular.

I even watched poor Danny Wuerffel get football murdered during a 31-0 thrashing by the San Francisco 49ers in 1998. Wuerffel got sacked 6 times, the Saints had 167 yards of total offense and didn't get past the 49ers 29 yard-line until there was 5 minutes left in the game, and they were trailing 31-0.

The Saints yesterday for 3 quarters in Philadelphia were every bit as bad. The Saints had 99 yards of offense in the first half, and if not for the defense setting them up 1st and goal with a fumble recovery, wouldn't have sniffed the end zone until the game was decided in the fourth quarter. 

The Saints are so injury-ravaged it might just be quicker to list the players NOT hurt.

Sean Payton after the game looked as down after a regular-season loss as maybe I've ever seen him. 

Who can blame him? Four weeks ago, the Saints faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and looked like a team that had things coming together. 

Sure the receivers were bad, but Jameis Winston was playing well, Alvin Kamara was as electric as ever, the defense was one of the best in the NFL, and a fifth straight division title seemed within reach. 

Three weeks later Jameis is out for the season, Alvin Kamara has missed the past 2 weeks, and both starting offensive tackles are out. That Halloween P.J. Williams interception of Tom Brady feels like it happened 5 years ago.

Trevor Siemian reminded us the Saints going 8-1 with backup quarterbacks in 2019-2020 was the stuff of legends and unicorns. Playing backup quarterbacks for extended stretches usually ends with hopelessness, melancholy, and for Saints fans a long tear-filled look at a Drew Brees jersey.

The trouble for the Saints is good offenses force defenses to make compromises and choices that give an offense opportunities to make plays.

 With the Saints, defenses don’t have to make any difficult choices because the Saints currently don't do anything well. So moving the ball for the Saints becomes incredibly difficult because even IF the Saints run the ball well, their receivers can't win one-on-one match-ups to take advantage of a defense focused on stopping the run. 

What will happen first, a Saints receiver catches a 50/50 ball or Christmas arrives? Don't answer that.

While the offense was looking as bad as it has in a generation, the Saints defense for the second straight season was getting run over by the Eagles on the ground. 

The Eagles have run for 488 yards combined in 2 games against the Saints the last 2 seasons. To put that in perspective, entering Sunday the Saints had allowed 656 yards rushing the entire 2021 season.

The Saints run defense is an impregnable wall against the entire NFL, except for the Eagles, who have won 7 games against the rest of the NFL since 2020, but 2 against the Saints. I think Jalen Hurts just scored again.

You probably are expecting me to say the season is lost, impossible, the Saints are sunk, and we should look to 2022. You'd be wrong. 

The Saints are 5-5, and if the season ended today, they'd be the 7th seed. The day I say the Saints going to playoffs isn't worth doing is the day I stop watching football.

The Saints aren't going to win a single football game the rest of 2021 where they have more turnovers than their opposition. They simply aren't good enough. The Saints as currently constituted need to play mistake-free, have the game be 1 score with 5 minutes left, and then hope they do enough to win.

Sean Payton said as much Sunday, “Obviously, we didn't do the things necessary to win in our league, pretty much in every phase.”

If the 2021 Saints have shown us anything, it's when the odds seem the longest, and it's time to write them off is the exact moment they give us reason to believe just a little longer. So that's what I'll do...believe a little longer. But Saints, I'm running out of patience and you are running out of time.

Since the Saints play on Thanksgiving Day, no preview column this week, but here is my game prediction.

New Orleans (+4.5) vs Buffalo: The entire world will be on the Bills as they got trounced at home by the Colts, and are still viewed as a Super Bowl team. The Bills defense is outstanding as they are second in points allowed (17.6) and 9th in rushing yards allowed (101.9). This is after giving up 41 points and 264 yards rushing to Indianapolis. They'll be mad and looking to keep pace with the surging Patriots in the AFC East.

This on paper is probably the worst match-up of the season for the Saints. How exactly are the Saints going to win this game? Thanksgiving magic? 

My head says the Saints are going to get absolutely destroyed by a Buffalo defense with the players to absolutely humiliate the Saints offense on national TV.

The thing is, I've seen a 2 win Mike Ditka team win on Christmas Eve, and I've seen Danny Wuerfell beat Peyton Manning in overtime. 

I'm a Saints fan and I choose to believe in absurd and delightfully foolish things happening to make me happy because it beats the reality of what I've watched the last 3 weeks. 

Saints 24-20