Please sit down, because I'm about to deliver some startling news regarding the New Orleans Saints that could send your heart rate skyward or dangerously low, depending on how you react to a shocking development.
No, they are not moving, quarterback Drew Brees is not retiring and club owner Tom Benson remains competent and in control of his vast sports empire, though his three estranged relatives continue to seek legal remedies to up the ante in their trust funds.
Now take a deep breath. Exhale. Again. Ready?
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Your beloved Black and Gold are not playoff dead at 1-3. They remain on life support but they have a steady pulse. It will take a concerted effort by all involved over the last 12 games to reach the postseason but stranger things have happened.
Look at their remaining strength of schedule. Consider: at Philadelphia (1-3), Atlanta (4-0), at Indianapolis (2-2), New York Giants (2-2), Tennessee (1-2), at Washington (2-2). After a bye the week of Nov. 22, at Houston (1-3), Carolina (4-0), at Tampa Bay (1-3), Detroit (0-4), Jacksonville (1-3) and at Atlanta (4-0).
Granted their are some potential land mines, beginning but not ending with undefeated NFC South co-leaders Atlanta (Weeks 6, 17) and Carolina (Week 13). Certainly, the Eagles, Giants and Redskins from the NFC East are formidable foes. Plus, the Colts should have quarterback Andrew Luck back under center by the time they meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7 (Oct. 25). And, of course, the Buccaneers won the first meeting against the Saints in Week 2 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
And so on and so forth.
But don't lose sight of the message: The Saints have a chance, a slim chance perhaps, but a chance nevertheless.
Nobody probably gave the 1992 San Diego Chargers a chance. Or the '95 Detroit Lions. Or the '98 Buffalo Bills. But they all overcame 0-3 starts to make the playoffs. In fact, the '92 Chargers lost their first four games and went on to win the AFC West at 11-5 and become the first and only team to start 0-4 and still make the playoffs.
So yes, it can be done.
I do think this:
n The football gods will have to smile favorably on Sean Payton's team. Perhaps, they played a role in Sunday night's serendipitous
overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys, 26-20.
n The moon, sun and stars also may have to align. A couple shooting stars would help.
n The entire offense has to reboot and pick up where it left off a couple years ago with a healthy Brees leading the way.
n The walking wounded on defense have to get healthy and contribute mightily, specifically safety Jairus Byrd, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Keenan Lewis.
n If not Zach Hocker, then Payton has to find someone who can kick the opponent where it hurts most, right between the uprights.
Even then, all the aforementioned ingredients for success may not be enough to get the Saints in the postseason.
Here's the bottom line: The Saints will have to go 9-3 (probably sweep Atlanta), 8-4 at the bare minimum over the next three months. Can they. Yes, they can against their remaining schedule.
Hey, they're still breathing, aren't they? Don't pull the plug on this team just yet.
Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.