Saints’ Outlook For Rest of Season
There is a chance that Brees misses the rest of the regular season, and for the sake of this exercise, let us assume that turns out to be the case.
That means that they’ll have to continue to run the table with Winston under center, which is no small task. On the bright side, they were 5-0 with Bridgewater last season, and that included impressive wins in Seattle, Chicago and in primetime against the Cowboys.
The schedule is extremely favorable for the Saints. Currently, the Chiefs in Week 15 are the only team with a winning record they play.
Additionally, they may still have the quarterback advantage in games against the Broncos and Eagles, while Winston should be able to pick apart the secondaries of the Falcons, Vikings, and Panthers.
Playing Atlanta twice in a three-game stretch concerns me. With three losses in games with a win probability over 98%, they are far better than their record indicates, and will hold a significant quarterback advantage.
Meanwhile, they are coming off of their bye, starting to play better, and have always matched up well against New Orleans.
If Brees missed the rest of the season, my hunch is that the Saints go 5-3 without him. That would give them an overall record of 11-5, which will make the division race very tight and will certainly prevent them from being the No. 1 seed.
However, that also feels like more of a worst-case scenario; Winston isn’t a bad quarterback by any means.
Right now, the Saints are starting to perform much closer to expectations defensively, as their pass defense has really stepped up. The Falcons, Vikings, Chiefs, and Panthers all have strong receiving corps, so they’ll be tested, but New Orleans does have the talent to still run the table with Winston.
After all, most of Brees’ yards came after the catch anyway, so if Payton can keep the offense functioning, maybe the drop-off won’t be as noticeable as it should be.