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New Orleans Saints entering critical four game stretch

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Hype. The Saints aren’t usually a team that gets much of it, and even during their 13-3 Superbowl winning season analysts were waiting for the “shoe to drop” in anticipation of them coming crashing back to Earth.

Once the Saints pushed through their post season opponents in 2009, clearing out the Cardinals and Vikings, and advanced to their first ever Superbowl appearance, praise still was a rarity for Brees and company.

Talk shifted to how the Saints were ever going to beat a Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts teams in the Superbowl.

Not surprisingly they were the under dogs, but a legendary onside kick and a key interception later it was New Orleans hosting the Lombardi Trophy, while Manning and the Colts watched from the sidelines.

Respect. While hype was never something they received, it was respect that they earned after winning it all.

But the respect didn’t last long after an 11-5 season in 2010, and a shockingly early exit in last years playoffs against a perceived poor Seattle Seahawks team.

Hype. Fast forward to week one of the 2011 season, after stumbling early against the Green Bay Packers the Saints came back and nearly won the game after a barrage of offense in the second half.

Since then they have won five of their next seven games, including a 62 to 7 clobbering of the Indianapolis Colts in week seven.

They were unstoppable on offense and defense, earning praise as the NFC’s best team behind only the undefeated Packers after the lopsided victory.

Maybe it was the hype, and maybe the Saints bought into the idea they were an unstoppable force.

After all they were slated to face a winless Rams team the next week, again perceived to be one of the NFL’s worst, and were coming off such an amazing performance against Indianapolis.

The reality is that the Rams where ready for the Saints, but the Saints weren’t ready for the Rams.

The NFL’s highest scoring offense failed to find end zone against a St. Louis defense that couldn’t stop a sneeze until the end of the third quarter.

They were outplayed, out coached, and out classed in the loss.

Suddenly one of the NFC’s best teams began to look like one of the worst, and the Saints were left looking for answers.