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SAVING GRACE? “Weak” NFC South Could Help Saints Survive Brees Injury

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is scheduled to undergo surgery later this afternoon out in Los Angeles to repair a torn ligament on the thumb of his right throwing hand, a medical procedure which requires an expected recovery time of 6-to-8 weeks.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Steven Shin, a well-known and nationally-renowned hand specialist who is employed by the Rams, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero .

However, the Saints don’t plan putting Brees on injured reserve, which would keep him out at least eight weeks and cause him to miss at least the next 6 games for the Black and Gold.

Brees suffered the injury on the Saints’ second drive this past Sunday against the Rams. His hand hit the hand of Rams All-Pro (and reigning 2018 NFL Defensive MVP) defensive tackle Aaron Donald and then got his fingers smashed against his own helmet, on the play.

Drew Brees Thumb Injury

(Courtesy Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Saints back-up #2 QB Teddy Bridgewater finished the game for the Black and Gold, and head coach Sean Payton is expected to continue to roll with him as their starting QB.

However. in spite of the trepidation that’s been prevalent among disappointed Who Dat fans nation-wide in the past 48 hours, there is one “saving grace”.

And that one “saving grace” for New Orleans is that the NFC South Division appears to be WIDE OPEN this season, and especially so now that Brees will be out of action for at least the 6-game minimum.

It’s the main reason why many observers League-wide yesterday were suggesting that the Saints need to do everything within their power as an organization, to play to their strengths without Brees while he is out.

The Saints are fortunate to have a (1-1) win-loss record currently, and in spite of being the “underdog” this coming Sunday at undefeated Seattle (2-0) and then again next week when they come home to face the undefeated (2-0) Dallas Cowboys; it’s important to realize that their season isn’t over by any means

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

After their game against the Cowboys, the Saints have a string of games that they can be competitive in without Brees: at home vs. Tampa Bay in Week #5, followed by games at Jacksonville, at Chicago, and then back home against the Arizona Cardinals.

Even if the Saints only managed to go (3-3) without Brees. it would give them a break-even win-loss record at (4-4), and keep the Black and Gold squarely in the hunt for the NFC Playoffs (and remain in contention to still win the division) when Brees gets back.

As an added benefit, this season’s schedule gives the Saints a perfectly-timed Bye Week (in Week #9), which is when Brees tentatively is expected to return.

They’ll have an easier 2nd half of the schedule by most accounts, and although they will be facing the Falcons and Panthers twice each in five of their remaining six NFC South contests, they all will be winnable games if Brees is back under center by that point.

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bottom line: the Saints ARE NOT “throwing in the towel” on this season with 14 games still left to play, and neither should their loyal and passionate “Who Dat Nation” fan-base.

To that point, playing within the NFC South likely will is the main reason how New Orleans can manage to ‘survive’ Brees’ absence, since none of the division’s 4 teams appear to have a distinct advantage over one another this year.

Which essentially means that the Saints can finish with a win-loss record as bad or “worse” as (9-7) and STILL make the Playoffs by winning the division, if they were to miss out on a Wild Card spot.

While it’s tough to predict how the next 14 games on the schedule will unfold and ultimately play out, what is known is that none of the division’s other 3 teams — the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers — appear to be overwhelmingly better than any of the other Playoff ‘contenders’ in the conference.

The (1-1) Falcons through their first two games. have looked horrible one week (in their opening loss on the road at Minnesota) and then pretty good the next. The (1-1) Buccaneers are the great unknown at the moment under their new head coach Bruce Arians, but the inconsistency of their starting QB Jameis Winston is their one potential short-coming.

And then of course’s there’s Cam Newton and the Panthers. who are (0-2) and seemingly appear to be headed for a losing season, because of their notable inability to score points on offense in spite of an abundance of talent on that side of the ball.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

So it goes without saying, the Saints simply aren’t finished or “done” whatsoever, in spite of the other teams League-wide that would love nothing better than to see them eliminated from post-season contention while Brees is out of the starting line-up.

If the Black and Gold can basically play “break-even” football in their next 6 games, they can “salvage” a season that initially looked to be headed for disaster —  and turn it into their “saving grace” instead……

Saints News Network featured columnist and Big Easy Magazine contributing writer Barry Hirstius is a 52-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer 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 45 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....


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