Brian Allee-Walsh

New Orleans Saints are in bad company, but all is not lost — yet

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is forced to the ground by New York Giants' Owa Odighizuwa (58) and Jason Pierre-Paul (90) after being tripped up by Leon Hall (25) for a sack Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is forced to the ground by New York Giants' Owa Odighizuwa (58) and Jason Pierre-Paul (90) after being tripped up by Leon Hall (25) for a sack Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

Eight teams are 0-2 heading into Week 3 of the NFL season.

Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Jacksonville from the AFC and Washington, Chicago and your New Orleans Saints from the NFC.

Based on a 25-year sample, league history tells us that only one of these eight teams likely will get its act together and join the 12-team playoff field at season's end.

Thus, I will set the over/under at 1.

My prediction is forthcoming.

To simplify matters, I will automatically eliminate Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Chicago from consideration. Not only will all of the aforementioned teams finish the 16-game schedule with double-digit losses but the Bills (Rex Ryan) and Jaguars (Gus Bradley) could lose their coaches as well if their seasons continue to head south.

So that leaves Miami, Indianapolis, Washington and your New Orleans Saints from the original pool of 0-2 teams.

Of these four still standing, the Saints entered the season with the toughest strength of schedule followed by Miami, Washington and Indianapolis. That's why losing to Oakland (35-34) at home and the New York Giants (16-13) in Weeks 1 and 2 is such a downer, especially the way they lost each game in the final fleeting seconds.

Good teams would have found a way to win. Draw your own conclusion.

Let's be honest here: Few impartial observers thought the Black and Gold to be a playoff-caliber team upon entering the season anyway. But those two losses — close doesn't count in the final analysis — leave the Saints with little margin for error in upcoming games against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and at San Diego on Oct. 2 before heading into a bye in Week 5.

The Saints must win both games. Period. End of story.

Even 2-2 puts them on shaky ground when considering the next six-game stretch in Weeks 6 through 11. After the break, the Saints face three-time defending NFC South champion Carolina (Oct. 16), Seattle (Oct. 30) and defending Super Bowl 50 champion Denver (Nov. 13) at home, and travel to Kansas City (Oct. 23), San Francisco (Nov. 6) and Carolina (Nov. 17).

The Saints would be doing well to be 5-5 after 10 games, meaning they have to go 5-3 from this point forward.

I don't see that happening.

I'm inclined to say that none of the current 0-2 teams are playoff worthy, not based on the first two weeks.

So if the over/under is 1, I'll take the under.

If correct, that wouldn't bode well for your New Orleans Saints.

Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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