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Barry Hirstius

BY THE NUMBERS: Looking at the Saints’ Chances of “Turning Things Around”

1,025. That's the amount of total yards surrendered so far by the godawful New Orleans Saints defense through the first two games of the 2017 NFL regular season. It's the most yards that any defense in the League has given up, which is why they're also the worst team in the League defensively --- ranked 32nd out of 32 teams while yielding an average of 512.5 yards per game.

57.7%. That's the percentage of 3rd Down conversion success that NFL offenses have against that same Saints defense, which also is by far and away the worst for any defense in the League.

Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

1-11. That's the Saints overall win-loss record in the month of September dating back to the 2014 season, which obviously is the worst record of any team in the League since that time. The Saints still have one more game in September to add to that total, when they visit the Carolina Panthers tomorrow afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

27 of 222. That's the number of NFL teams dating all the way back to the 1990 NFL season, that have gone on to still make the NFL Playoffs after an 0-2 start; which by the way has happened to the Saints now for a 4th straight season. Ironically, one of those teams was the 1990 Saints team -- which I specifically wrote about in great detail, in my previous article.

196.5. That's the total yards allowed per game so far on defense by tomorrow's opponent -- the Carolina Panthers -- which ranks them 1st overall in the National Football League in both run defense (60 yards per game) and pass defense (136.5 yards through the air).

6. That's the number of total points scored against the Panthers defense; which hasn't allowed a TD to be scored on them yet either, and obviously ranks them 1st in the NFL with 3 points surrendered per contest.

1-4. That's the record for the Saints against the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium -- site of tomorrow's game -- in the past 5 seasons. The Saints' last win at Charlotte occurred during the 2014 season.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

See where I'm going with all of this?

Only 2 weeks into the 2017 NFL regular season, all of the numbers are starting to pile up against the New Orleans Saints like a credit debtor who's been patiently allowing the money owed by a client to build up slowly over time, before "swooping in" with the assistance of the local / federal government and then suddenly seizing all of their assets (including whatever property that they own and any money that they've got) without warning.

And with the (2-0) Carolina Panthers looming on the schedule tomorrow for the Saints, it only seems to indicate that things could get much worse for the Saints before it ever gets better.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

So while we're looking at numbers, here's another number that's important for the Saints and their fans to keep in mind: 14.

14 is the number of regular season games remaining for the New Orleans Saints, which means that they still have FOURTEEN MORE opportunities to "right the ship" and get their season back on track.

The question then becomes: can they actually pull it off?

It certainly isn't going to be easy --- and after losing the first 2 games of the season in the manner in which they did, the likelihood of the Saints being able to turn their season around appears to be taking on an even greater degree of difficulty than it ever did before. 

Here's how I personally see the next month's worth of games for the Saints shaping up, with their chances of winning (or losing) each game:

 

Tomorrow afternoon (at Carolina):

Photo courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News

The Panthers are banged up, and will be missing both starting tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil for this contest, while QB Cam Newton still is trying to shake off the after-effects of being sacked 6 times against Buffalo last week.

But as bad as the Saints defense has played, I find it hard to believe that they will be able to stop the Panthers rushing attack; and they potentially could have a whole lot of problems with Panthers rookie RB Christian McCaffrey.

CHANCES OF WINNING: 35%

 

Sunday, October 1st (in London, England vs. Miami)

Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald

The Dolphins are 1-0 after having their first game re-scheduled because of Hurricane Irma, and are still getting acclimated to their new starting QB Jay Cutler, who was lured out of his brief retirement to take over the reigns of the Miami offense after previous starter Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season with a torn ACL injury.

However, Miami still has one of the best RB's in the NFL with Jay Ajayi; who could spell even more trouble for the Saints defense. Nevertheless, the Saints defense has fared well against Cutler in past meetings, and this year won't be any different even though he's with a different team. This is a "winnable" game for New Orleans before they go on their Bye Week.

CHANCES OF WINNING: 50%

 

Sunday, October 15th (home vs. Detroit)

Photo courtesy of Newsday

The Saints will have a week off to prepare for this game, which will be a good thing since they'll be facing the high-powered Detroit passing offense led by All-Pro QB Matthew Stafford, who potentially could have an absolute "field day" against that struggling Saints pass defense.

This game has all of the makings of a "shoot out" between Stafford and Drew Brees; but Detroit's defense is slightly better than the Saints defense, which seemingly would then make the Lions the favorites in this contest. It's a toss-up in my view, but with the edge in favor of Detroit.

CHANCES OF WINNING: 45%

 

Sunday, October 22nd (at Green Bay) 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Are you kidding? The Saints defense vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, and within the confines of the legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one of the most sacred sites in all of the entire NFL? You'd have a better chance of winning the Powerball Lottery 3 straight weeks in a row, than the Saints do of winning this game.

If there's any one game on the Saints upcoming schedule that you could mark down as a certain "L" (for a loss), it would be this game. The only hope for the Saints in this one would be if Rodgers couldn't play somehow, which would then give the Saints a chance to pull off an upset.

CHANCES OF WINNING: 10%

 

As you can see for yourself, there aren't any "breaks" or "soft spots" for the Saints in the next month's worth of games, to get things headed back in the right direction and to possibly give themselves a chance of making the NFL Playoffs at the very end of the season.

The Saints are potentially looking at a (1-5) start, and maybe (2-4) with a break or two here and there.

That's not to say that the Saints can't win a majority of their next few games; but given what we've seen from them in the first 2 games, it's really hard to be optimistic about that actually happening.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

The Saints only have two --- count them: 2 -- games in which they will likely be the "favorite" in for the rest of the entire year: Sunday, October 29th at Chicago against the Bears; and Sunday, December 17th at home against the New York Jets.

Otherwise?

The Saints will be the "underdog" in every other single game that they play for the remainder of the season, except for those two games against the Bears and the Jets.

That's a sobering thought for both the franchise and the entire "Who Dat Nation" fan base, and a harsh reality of just how far this Saints franchise has fallen in recent seasons, since their rise to the top of the NFL back in 2009.

Can the Saints get things turned around and save themselves and their fans from any further embarrassment?

If we're simply just going "by the numbers", then chances aren't looking very good right now that they can pull it off......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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