The New Orleans Saints clinched the 6th seed in the NFC playoff race after a resounding home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The win was a good momentum builder after a lackluster 4 week stretch where they lost 3 out of 4. The Saints did some good things against the Buccaneers and it will be interesting to see how the Saints fare in the playoffs.
The Saints did what they were supposed to Sunday in blowing out the Bucs. Brees was back to his normal, brilliant ways passing for over 381 yards and 4 touchdowns. He spread the ball around completing passes to 11 different receivers including Jimmy Graham who feel one short of tying the single season tight end touchdown record. Even more important was the job rookie Terron Armstead did against an underrated Bucs defensive line keeping Brees upright.
Meanwhile, the defense played up to par, though they were leaky at time. The defense is having to adjust to not having rookie sensation Kenny Vaccaro, but Rob Ryan has shown he can adjust to losing just about anyone. Though it is nice to get the win, the real season starts next week with the playoffs.
The Saints will have the hardest road to the playoffs being the 6th seed. The question is what are realistic expectations for the Saints? At times this season, the Saints have looked like the best team in the league; but on the other hand, it is dumbfounding that they are a playoff team when you watch them. Though, on paper, they are one of the most complete teams, the Saints, who are tired of hearing it, are not a good road team.
And unfortunately, if they plan on getting to the Super Bowl, it will not be done in the Superdome. This is the second time in the Payton-Brees era that their playoff run will not feature a home game. In addition, the Saints have not won road playoff game (ever, under anyone).
Having said this what are realistic expectations? The Saints open up their road trip traveling to Philadelphia. Earlier this season there was a blizzard which would be an absolute nightmare, but if the conditions are clear the Saints a good chance to win against a relatively inexperienced team and a defense that isn’t the most stout of units.
If the Saints do get past the Eagles, they will have to go straight to Seattle where they were embarrassed earlier in the season on Monday night. However, a seasoned team like the Saints will not be looking that far ahead, and will try to take care of business this weekend in Philadelphia.