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NFC South: Saints Season Already Over

The NFC South has a much different look at this point of the season after four games, than it did last season after the first four games. Currently the Atlanta Falcons top the division with a 4-0 record and are just one of three teams still undefeated after four games. Tied for second are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers at 1-3, three games behind with only a quarter of the season played.

The most surprising of all is the current team in the NFC South cellar, the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are winless at 0-4. Last year, at this juncture of the season, the Saints were leading the division, the Buccaneers were in second tied with the Falcons and Carolina was in the cellar.

The offseason was rough on the Saints and with their slow start this season, it looks like a chance of the playoffs is next to impossible. The Saints and Cleveland Browns are the only two teams in the NFL still winless after four weeks of action. History has proved that with starts like this, teams’ seasons will get worse before they get better.

Since the merger of the AFL-NFL, just one team qualified for the playoffs after opening the season at 0-4. That team was the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who ended the season with 11 wins in their last 12 games. That feat looks to be impossible for the Saints to accomplish. Since the AFL-NFL merger there have been 183 teams that have started their seasons 0-4 and 182 of them did not make the playoffs.

If the Falcons had not started their season at 4-0, things might not look all that bad for New Orleans, as the other two teams in the division have floundered and only managed to win one game apiece. The Buccaneers and Panthers also have very little chance of qualifying for the postseason.

Odds makers at this time do not even see the Saints ending their season at .500, much less make the postseason. Even without taking into account the strength of schedule or divisional opponents, it will be next to impossible for New Orleans to reach 8-8 at the end of the season.

The Saints have been able to continue scoring points as evidenced by the 27 scored in their loss last weekend to Green Bay. The offense is averaging over 400 yards a game, which is eighth in the league and scoring at 27.5 points per game, which is tenth in the league.

That however, is offset by a defense that is porous at best. The Saints defense is giving up over 463 yards and 32.5 points per game. No other team defense has given up the yardage the Saints defense has thus far after four games.

Because the defense is so poor, the offense will be playing from behind much of the time this season and the offense, behind talented quarterback Drew Brees will have to perform better than ever.

New Orleans is much better overall than their record indicates and given a break or two over their first four games, they might be 2-2 or at least 1-3. However, the NFL is not forgiving and the season will roll on with New Orleans fans not feeling the way they had hoped.

At least the fans will not have to wear shopping bags over their heads, as they did years ago when the team repeatedly lost each week. The fan base knows the team is still talented and will return strong next season.

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