With a perfect record at the halfway mark of the 2009 season, the Saints are the easy pick to represent the NFC for Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida. However, as the Saints march onto the second half of the season, the road will not be as easy as they will encounter some roadblocks.
Yes, a perfect record would be nice; however, it will not determine the success of the 2009 season. This season will only be successful if the Saints are Super Bowl winners eighty-four days from now. Having blown by Detroit, showing resiliency by surmounting a 21-point deficit against the Dolphins, and by beating quality opponents, the Saints have shown they are no fluke. Nonetheless, the November 30th, Monday Night showdown against the Patriots should tell us what the Saints are really made of.
Upon reviewing the remainder of the schedule, the Saints should finish with no less than 14 wins, with a must-win game against the Cowboys in late December. This is crucial because the Saints must lock up home-field advantage in the playoffs if they are to make a serious push for the Super Bowl. The Saints do not want to face the Cowboys or the Vikings on the road in the playoffs.
In the second half of the season, the Saints must continue their success with the aerial and ground attack, ranking fourth and fifth respectively in the league, if they want to continue picking away defenses. The defense, sixteenth overall, much improved this year under Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams, must keep teams out of the endzone.
They have allowed nearly 22 points a game. It all comes down to discipline. The defense is fourth in the league in penalty yards, which has allowed opposing teams to move down the field and score against them. To date, the Saints have not won any close game, and the defense has been getting by with the outstanding play of Drew Brees and the offense.
The Saints have won their games by an average of sixteen points. Should teams start figuring out a way to slow down Drew Brees and the rest of the offense, the Saints will be in trouble, unless the defense picks up their act.