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Barry Hirstius

RUNNING THE TABLE: Perfect October Has Made NFL Take Notice of the Saints

There's an old saying that applies to the New Orleans Saints after their tough and hard-fought 20-12 victory over the Chicago Bears at the Superdome, yesterday afternoon: 

"If one’s an incident and two’s a coincidence, then three’s a pattern".

So after the team's 5th straight win yesterday in which the Saints won 'ugly' despite committing 2 turnovers, 7 penalties, and converting only 2 out of 9 on 3rd down conversion attempts, the Saints suddenly are the NFC's #3 seed (if the season ended today) — their success could certainly now be considered a "trend".

And after an entire month of October in which New Orleans won all 4 of its games, the rest of the National Football League has had no choice but to finally began to take notice of it.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

However, the Saints themselves aren't satisfied with their achievements of the past month; nor or they content to rest on their laurels, with half the season still remaining to play.

And after the game yesterday, the theme among both Saints players and coaches was that despite their recent success, that there is still room for major improvement — as yesterday's at-times sloppy performance indicated.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” quarterback Drew Brees said to reporters at his post-game press conference in the team's media room.

“We have a lot of room for improvement. We are not satisfied where we are right now. We still feel like we have a long way to go.”

Sure, the Saints now have to be considered a Playoff contender.

When you find yourself leading your division as the League approaches the half-way mark of the regular season and are among the top teams in your conference, there's no other way around it.

Photo courtesy of Wesley Hitt, Getty Images

But with an upcoming schedule that now includes two road games against 2 other teams that are also Playoff contenders (November 12th at Buffalo Bills (5-2) and at the Los Angeles Rams (5-2) to close out November on Thanksgiving Weekend), there isn't any time to celebrate their good fortune.

All they know is that if they want to remain where they're currently at or get to an even higher position within the NFC, they have to do better than the way that they played yesterday.

“Whatever seems to take place through the game, we never panic; we just play with what’s given to us,” RB Mark Ingram said.to reporters in front of his locker afterwards.

“That’s encouraging as a team that we can overcome some things, but we can’t keep doing that and expecting to win big games.”

Next week, the Saints return to playing within their own division as they will face the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) at the Superdome.

Then a true test awaits them in Week #10 at Buffalo, when they'll have to face a team that's as equally "red-hot" as the Saints currently are, when they face a Bills team in New Era Field, one of the NFL's toughest home-field advantages for visiting teams on the road to overcome.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

These next two weeks should reveal a lot about where this team stands now and also where they could possibly be headed in the future.

“We still got a lot we need to clean up,” 5th year veteran safety Kenny Vaccaro (who played perhaps his best game of the season with 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, half a sack and a key pass break-up) said. 

"Even though we won the game and only gave up 12 points, I still got a bad taste in my mouth from those long runs. Some of those explosive plays are going to come back to bite us later in the year.”

Let's face it: this Saints team is far from perfect, and they aren't going to necessarily 'dominate' teams like the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears or even one of the the franchise's own legendary "Dome Patrol" teams of the late 1980's and early 1990's.

But one thing that they are doing: still finding a way to win — even when they aren't playing at their best.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

It's yet another reason to start believing in this young and up-and-coming Saints team; and yesterday several National Sports Media broadcast networks and websites that cover the NFL were giving the Saints their "props", as their winning streak has now reached 5 with possibly a few more still yet to come.

That includes this observation form Sports Illustrated, the "holy grail" of all Sports Media among most older Saints and NFL fans.

Make no mistake about it: the Saints are finally starting to earn the respect that is afforded to teams that that consistently win games in the NFL.

The issue for New Orleans hasn't been that no one wanted to give them credit, but rather simply because the Saints hadn't given them a REASON (like winning games consistently week-to-week) to be noticed.

But when you still find a way to win a game that admittedly wasn't your best, when in the past you would have been expected to fold up like some cheap winter blanket; then people have to begin paying attention.

The New Orleans Saints have won 5 straight games, lead the NFC South Division, and are currently the #3 seed in the National Football Conference as the League has reached its half-way point of the season.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hinton, New Orleans Advocate

And if the Saints can keep finding ways to win even when they haven't given their best effort, then their stature will continue to grow even further among the people who's opinions matter in the world of professional sports.

The rest of the NFL has finally taken notice of the Saints — and mostly because New Orleans "running the table" in the month of October, hasn't left them with any choice.........

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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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