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ATTACK-MODE: Aggressive Saints Can Make History Tonight Against the Dirty Birds

The (9-1) New Orleans Saints currently have the longest active winning streak in the NFL, and for a lack of a better term they’re about to enter uncharted waters when it comes to the longest winning streaks in team history.

The Saints are currently on a 9-game winning streak, which is now the 4th nine-game winning streak in franchise history along with the 1987 season, the 2009 Super Bowl season, and the 2011 team that won their final 8 regular season games and the Wild Card Playoff game the following week. 

But as most Saints fans are aware: the Saints have only had one such winning-streak ever reach 10 in a row, which of course was the Super Bowl-winning team from 2009 that started off by winning their first 13 games consecutively and finished at (13-3).

Oct 25, 2009 ; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush (25) leaps across the goal line for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter of a game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not this current streak can exceed that team record 13-game streak from 2009 remains to be seen, although the Saints’ remaining schedule that still has games against the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and two divisional contests against the Carolina Panthers on it; would seem to make the probability of accomplishing that task somewhat of a long shot.

Nevertheless, with the Saints playing as well as they have this season and with them needing to keep the proverbial “foot on the gas” to stay with the (10-1) Los Angeles Rams in the race for the #1 Playoff seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the entire NFL Playoffs, the chance that it could eventually reach that high isn’t totally out of the question.

Especially not with the Saints’ stellar play on both sides of the football that’s allowed them to put up 144 points in the past 3 games alone, which is the most points scored over a three-week stretch in franchise history. 

On offense, the Saints have scored at least 40 or more points in a game six different times in their 10 games played up to this point. But perhaps even more impressive is that the defense — which notably had struggled earlier this season — has only allowed 19 points or less five times

As noted by New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill: part of the reason for the defense’s sudden resurgence is the Saints’ trade a few weeks back with the New York Giants for 3rd year CB and former Ohio State University star Eli Apple.

Underhill says that the trade is paying off in huge dividends, because Apple’s ability to cover the other side of the field opposite of Marshon Lattimore has now freed up defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to be much more aggressive and return the Saints defensive scheme to its normally-aggressive identity.

New Orleans Advocate Photo by STEPHEN LEW

Underhill adds that the defense was able to blitz whenever they wanted to against the Bengals and their QB Andy Dalton 3 weeks ago. which allowed them to dominate that game; and then they basically did the same thing again but with slightly different coverage assignments in wins over the Rams and Jared Goff 2 weeks ago and the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz this past week.

In all. the Saints defense intercepted 3 passes, had 3 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, 5 quarterback “hits” and 8 passes defensed as they completely destroyed the defending Super Bowl champions last week.

That makes a good recipe for winning football games; and undoubtedly, the Saints’ aggressive approach to winning games (both offensively and defensively) on a week-to-week basis has been what’s allowed them to reach this point of the current winning streak.

(AP Photo/Bill Feig)

As evidence of that mindset (and “win-now-at-all-cost”) philosophy, Saints head coach Sean Payton has been squarely focused on keeping the team in attack-mode at all times; and the fact that he had the offense go for it last week on a 4th-down-and-six from the Philadelphia 37-yard-line while already leading by 31 points in the 4th Quarter (where Alvin Kamara scored on a yard pass from Drew Brees), bares that out.

After the game, many Philly fans went on Social Media to complain that the Saints were trying to run up the score on the Eagles, even though the Philadelphia brain-trust themselves didn’t see it that way.

“No, they should,” said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. “We have to play ball. It is football. If they’re going to run it, then we have to tackle. If they’re going to throw it, then we have to defend it. Not at all. It’s football and I think if it was flipped the other way we would’ve done the same thing.

Asked about that thought process (as well as the current 9-game winning streak) after the 48-7 rout of the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, Payton told reporters (in a roundabout way without actually saying it) that the Saints aren’t going to “dial it back” or stop being aggressive for anybody.

Photo courtesy of Scott Threlkeld, New Orleans Advocate

“It was gonna be a long field goal, longer than we wanted, with a potential block,” Payton said to reporters via Mike Triplett of ESPN). “We still weren’t at that point in the game. You know, you just have to play in one game where you’re up 31 in the fourth quarter and you lose … and that’s an explosive offense.

“But it’s an empty at-the-line call and Drew (Brees) did a good job of making the throw. You know, we’re playing. And it’s hard to have thoughts about what you want to do when you’re still 15 minutes remaining in the game.”

Payton was later asked how “good” he thought that the Saints are, considering that they are on a tremendous roll right now with the current winning streak and seemingly can’t be stopped at the moment.

“You are what your record is,” Payton told reporters in his post-game press conference.

“I didn’t say we aren’t pretty good, but there’s a lot of the season left. I’m not down-playing what we’ve done. The guys are in there playing music loud, and if you want me to smile more, I’ll smile more.”

Photo courtesy of Scott Threlkeld, New Orleans Advocate

Clearly a few more smiles for Payton is a goal that can be achieved by beating the Falcons in tonight’s highly-anticipated and nationally-televised NBC Thanksgiving Night showdown, but given that this is a NFC South divisional game, it won’t be that easy.

However, the one thing that you can be certain of:

The Saints won’t be holding anything back from this point forward, and with the Falcons being the opponent in just a few more short hours from now at the Superdome, they most definitely won’t hold anything back tonight.

The aggressive Saints can make history tonight against those Dirty Birds — and you can bet they’ll be in “attack-mode” if they do….

 

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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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