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Rams are NFL’s Only Undefeated (and Undisputed #1) Team — But Are the Saints Closing the Gap?

Just in case Saints fans might have missed it somehow, a look at the most recent NFL standings through the first 6 weeks of the 2018 season shows that the (6-0) Los Angeles Rams are the League's undisputed #1 team and the only one that hasn't been beaten by anyone yet. 

But despite that incredibly impressive start to the season by Los Angeles, there are at least a few other teams out there that potentially can challenge them for the right to claim superiority within the NFC — and now with a 4-game winning streak after an embarrassing season-opening loss, the (4-1) New Orleans Saints appear to be one of those teams.

But are the Saints actually "closing the gap" between themselves and the Rams?

Photo courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

That all depends on your point of view of course, but with the Rams looming just up ahead in a few weeks on the Saints' upcoming schedule (Sunday, November 4th), a win over Baltimore this weekend could certainly narrow the distance between the two conference rivals as they battle alongside a few other teams for League-wide supremacy.

The Rams obviously are the conference’s clear-cut #1 team, and are loaded on both sides of the football, offensively and defensively as well.  This Sunday they'll face the (1-5) San Francisco 49ers; meaning that by this time next Monday morning, the Rams should and likely will be (7-0).

Meanwhile, the Saints have won 4 straight games and are currently riding the wave of emotion following their 43-19 blow-out of the Washington Redskins; in which Drew Brees broke the NFL’s all-time record for career passing yards.

But more worrisome for the rest of the League should be the fact that following a rather "sluggish" start to their season, the Saints in recent weeks have slowly began to exhibit the signs of having the same type of resilient team and "never say die attitude" around Brees, that they had last season.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Certainly, if the Saints are able to keep pace along with Los Angeles in the win column these next 2 weeks, it will set things up for a big-time showdown in the Superdome when the Saints return to play at home following back-to-back road contests at Baltimore this Sunday; and against the Vikings next Sunday at Minneapolis.

As it turns out, the Saints will need to beat the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday not only to just hang on to their current 1 game deficit behind the Rams; but to also remain ahead of the other teams that likely will emerge to challenge L.A. for the top seed in the Playoffs at the end of the season.

As of this moment, the two teams currently "right on the heels" of New Orleans are the Chicago Bears and the Saints' top challengers for the top spot in the NFC South Division, the Carolina Panthers.

However, both the Rams and the Saints caught a break last Sunday when both Chicago and Carolina were each beaten in close games in the final minutes of their respective contests.

The Bears actually entered into their game last weekend ranked 2nd in the entire NFL in both total defense and scoring defense, largely thanks to the addition via a trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this season for the League's top defensive star, Khalil Mack .

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

But they were beaten by the Miami Dolphins, thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime performance from Fins back-up QB and journeyman Brock Osweiler in overtime by a score of 31-28, and as a direct result, the Bears missed their chance to be (4-1) right alongside the Saints as well.

So too did the Panthers, who were beaten by the Redskins by a score of 23-17 last Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C.  The Panthers had an opportunity to pull the game out in the final minute, but the Redskins defense held the Panthers and QB Cam Newton from scoring and got the win. 

Up next for the (3-2) Panthers is a road trip to the defending Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles; who are currently (3-3).

Speaking of the Eagles, themselves and other would-be NFC title / Playoff contenders such as the previously-mentioned (3-2-1) Minnesota Vikings along with the (3-2-1) Green Bay Packers, have notably struggled at times this season.

And of course, it would be remiss not to mention the Saints' hated arch-rivals, the (2-4) Atlanta Falcons who last year were also a Playoff team but this season currently are in the midst of having a very disappointing start to their own 2018 campaign as well (in fact, the 'Dirty Birds" are currently in last place in the NFC South Division).

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

But there's still PLENTY of time left in the Regular Season (11 games for New Orleans); and you can rest assured that some other team will undoubtedly emerge to challenge both the Rams and Saints for NFC superiority.

But at this point, there is no way of knowing which team or teams that will be. Just who that team (or teams, plural) will be, is still yet to be determined.

However, make no mistake about it: the Saints appear to be getting their collective act together, and seemingly have began to start performing at the level that they were last season on both sides of the ball; following their well-documented defensive short-comings earlier in the season.

But in the NFL, things can quickly change at the proverbial drop of a hat; and with THE TOUGHEST remaining schedule of any team in the entire League, that's a harsh reality that the Saints are hoping to avoid.

And they can help their own cause this Sunday, with a win at M&T Bank Stadium over host team Baltimore.

Nevertheless, the point still remains that the Los Angles Rams are in fact the NFL's only undefeated and undisputed #1 team — but are the Saints now starting to close the gap? 

In the upcoming days, weeks. and months ahead, every single Saints fan nation-wide should have that question answered. Hopefully, it will be one that Who Dats want to hear....

 

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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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