The New Orleans Saints fell to the Atlanta Falcons 26-9. It wasn’t a dream. It was a real-life nightmare for Saints fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 10.
Yes, those (2-7) Falcons are celebrating a win that will most likely be the bright spot for their gloomy 2019 season. They toppled the then-7-1 New Orleans Saints.
The win only hurts Atlanta in the long run, as winning now will hurt its draft position in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
But this game stings more for the now 7-2 Saints, even though they feel rejuvenated after the Seattle Seahawks (8-2) defeated the San Francisco 49ers (8-1) on Monday Night Football for a 27-24 overtime victory.
Despite that gift from the Seahawks, the Saints know that this time of year is critical for playoff scenarios and peaking together as a unit. The Seahawks, Saints, and 49ers are all in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye but two of the three must pull ahead soon.
The latter part of the football season is where elements of the game like defense, turnover margin, red zone efficiency and time of possession will be the ultimate keys to victory. Not to say that offense isn’t important, but as the season goes on, offense alone cannot carry the day.
The remainder of the year for New Orleans includes four NFC South matchups, a heavyweight Week 14 battle with the 49ers and some AFC South games with the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans in December.
If the Saints were to win out, they would secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, even if they and the 49ers both finished the year with a (14-2) record.
In that scenario, New Orleans would win the tiebreaker if it were to defeat San Francisco, and the road to the Super Bowl would go through the Big Easy for the second year in a row.
The Saints have to place the loss to the Falcons behind them and realize what is at stake for their last seven games of the regular season. Every game won’t be easy, as Week 10 indicated, and every opponent will make the Saints earn their victories.
The time for excuses is over, as games will naturally become more intense and divisional games will be even tougher than last week’s home loss. Champions overcome adversity and push through it to get to their ultimate destination.