New Orleans Saints injury bug should make them playoff underdogs

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 24: J.T. Gray #48 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with his teammates after a play against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 24: J.T. Gray #48 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with his teammates after a play against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Saints are being hit with a brutal injury bug, and it’s time we start to consider this ten-win team the NFC underdog.

There’s no denying this season kicked off to a terrific start for the New Orleans Saints. They entered a critical Week 14 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers with just two losses. They’ve been that good throughout the bulk of the regular season.

With a relatively easy last three games, the Saints have a real chance to end 13-3. But, even if they are awarded a first-round bye, this team should still be considered an underdog given the numerous injuries to their defense.

Star defensive end Marcus Davenport, a player they traded up to secure in the 2018 NFL Draft, will undergo season-ending foot surgery after their 48-46 Week 14 loss. At the same time, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins may be out the remainder of the season.

It doesn’t stop there though. A.J. Klein and Kiko Alonso, two impactful linebackers, were out against the 49ers, and their return is still unknown. The team did sign former Notre Dame standout Manti Te’o, but he’s far from the quality fix for New Orleans.

Even further, the Saints offensive line has been banged up as well with Andrus Peat having missed the last few weeks. Thankfully, Peat, a Pro Bowl left guard, should return in time for New Orleans’ playoff race commences.

The Saints have reinforcements on the way, but Super Bowl-caliber teams are typically those that can maintain health and keep their best players in the game. For New Orleans, they sadly won’t be able to do that.

While that doesn’t crush their Super Bowl aspirations by any means, it does put a damper on them.

Davenport’s injury will be the most costly. In his second season in the league, the former first-round pick had six sacks and 31 tackles.

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This team knows the next-man-up style of play, but it’ll difficult for a player like Trey Hendrickson to perform at the same level. However, for the Saints to have those Super Bowl odds improve, he’ll have to.