Brian Allee-Walsh

Are the Brees-less Saints capable of reeling off another lengthy winning streak?

I’m beginning to think the New Orleans Saints might not lose again — no matter who plays quarterback — unless they beat themselves, game officials interfere or Mother Nature becomes ornery down the road at Chicago, Tampa Bay, Tennessee or Carolina.

OK, that’s a lot of ifs, ands or buts.

But at the very least, last season’s 10-game winning streak is doable, now that they have reeled off three straight wins with backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and successfully navigated a challenging start to their regular season.

First things first.

A few speed bumps remain along the way, beginning with Sunday’s road test at noon against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field (CBS). Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s under sunny skies.

The Jags (2-3) currently sit at - 2 1/2, according to national oddsmaker Don Best, largely because of rookie quarterback Gardner “Mustache’‘ Minshew and New Orleans-grown running back Leonard Fournette of LSU fame, who’s trying to become the first 100-yard rusher against the Saints in 31 games.

To which I say, the Saints have covered the spread in 14 straight October games (13-1 straight-up), including last Sunday’s 34-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and won eight consecutive games against AFC teams.

I see more of the same Sunday, though the game-day status of all-purpose running back Alvin Kamara is cause for concern. He went on the injury report mid-week with an ankle injury and is questionable. If Kamara is limited or can’t play, backup running backs Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington would share the load.

I’m usually not one to fawn over the Black and Gold after only five games, especially with starting quarterback Drew Brees dealing with a surgically-repaired thumb on his throwing hand and not knowing how proficient he’ll be upon his return.

But Bridgewater has done yeoman’s work in Brees’ absence with all three phases playing complementary football, and there is no reason to think that will change under NFL Coach of the Year candidate Sean Payton.

Payton is pushing all the right buttons, beginning with the scripting of weekly, imaginative game plans that highlight Bridgewater’s skill set. Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen and Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi are getting the most from their players, too.

Since losing in LA-Land to the Rams in Week 2, the Saints have humbled the Seattle Seahawks in their backyard, dominated the line of scrimmage against Dallas on national TV and stopped the Bucs right here in New Orleans.

Now the Saints have miles to travel before reaching their final desired destination on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. But the road looks far less treacherous after a stellar 4-1 start, which has countless national pundits and TV/radio talk show hosts singing their praises.

Count me in that number.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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