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Barry Hirstius

Are the Saints REALLY Super Bowl Contenders? Today’s the Day We Find Out

Barring a complete late-season collapse, we already know at (8-2) and leading their division with 6 games still left to play, that the New Orleans Saints are Playoff contenders.

But later on today when they face the (7-3) Los Angeles Rams at the legendary L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the first time in nearly 40 years, the question of whether or not New Orleans is a legitimate threat to make it all the way to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in February, will finally be answered.

Despite an 8-game winning streak that has vaulted the Saints back into the "upper tier" of the NFL's 32 teams and additionally has them ranked within the Top 5 in a handful of various 'power rankings' lists for the League; not everyone is convinced up to this point that the Saints are "for real".

But given the circumstances surrounding today's game along with the Saints' upcoming schedule for the next week and a half afterwards, we will know exactly whether this year's team is indeed capable of "winning it all" early next year or not.

Today's opponent in Los Angeles has been just as "hot" as the Saints have been in these last few weeks, even though they hit a bump in the road in their 24-7 loss to the Vikings at Minneapolis last week.

And if that weren't bad enough, then the Saints will be short-handed in today's game with both of their starting cornerbacks (Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley) ruled out with injuries.

Which of course means that the Saints now have to face the vaunted Rams WR corps with back-ups P.J. Williams and De'Vante Harris — neither of whom have managed to favorably distinguish themselves in pass coverage recently.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

If ever there was a game where you thought the Saints could and would lose and have their 8-game winning streak broken, it would be today. 

Although as any player on the team or member of the Saints organization will tell you privately: they enjoy proving people wrong, as they have done for the last several weeks now.

Beating the Rams while they're 'short-handed' is a challenge that they fully embrace.

But then just to rub salt in the proverbial wound, after today's game it gets even worse.

Next week the Saints host the Panthers, who at (7-3) themselves are hot on New Orleans' trail in the NFC South; and will be looking for revenge from their Week #3 meeting at Charlotte, North Carolina when the Saints thumped them by a score of 34-13.

Then just 4 days later after the Panthers game, the Saints travel to Atlanta to face their hated arch-rivals the Falcons, on NBC Thursday Night Football.

So to summarize: the Saints will face 3 Playoff contenders in the next 11 days.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

What that means is that for anyone who still doubts the Saints legitimately are a threat to win the Super Bowl this year, the next 11 days will either give them a reason to finally believe, or the chance to say "I told you" that they really weren't.

After that Thursday Night game against the Falcons in Atlanta, the Saints catch a bit of a break — as they'll face the Jets at home before playing Atlanta again just 2 weeks later on Christmas Eve, although that game will also be at the Superdome. The Saints then conclude their 2017 regular season schedule on the road at Tampa Bay on New Year's Eve.

The odds are pretty good at this point that the Saints will make the Playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season, and that's something that both the organization and their passionate fans should be very happy about.

But it's also the worst-kept secret in the world that everyone involved with the team and those who support them day in and day out as fans, are hoping they can get back to the Super Bowl and win another World Championship before Drew Brees eventually retires.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Brees turns 39 in a month and a half from now (January 15th), and although he is in phenomenal physical shape and appears capable of playing at least another 4 to 5 years, the chance to win a Super Bowl doesn't come along often; as evidenced by the 1 and only title (2009) that Brees has won now in his 16th NFL season.

Is this 2017 Saints team good enough to help Brees win another title?

In Los Angeles, California beginning with a 3:25 p.m. Central time kickoff at the legendary L.A. Memorial Coliseum, today's the day we find out.............

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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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