The New Orleans Saints all of a sudden are flying high at the present moment, so why does it feel so wrong and why is it hard for us Saints fans to join them?
The New Orleans Saints pulled off one of the most impressive wins and performances of their season, handing the recently surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers a loss, in Tampa no less, that approximately none of the pundits saw coming. The win keeps the Saints' playoff chances alive for another week, and served as an example of what Saints fans hoped the team could be this season. So why do we feel less than optimistic?
This writer's better half got back from the store when the Saints were leading 20-0 and asked, "How're the Saints doing?" After contemplating her question for several seconds, it was a struggle to come up with an answer. On the one hand, of course it was great that they were playing well and winning handily at the time, but on the other hand, it still felt like too little, too late, so the final answer was "multi-layered":
Her: *looking at the score* I don't get it. What's wrong?
Me: Well, we're winning because of course we are. The game means almost nothing after losing to the Rams last week, so it stands to reason that we'd win a game nobody expects us to win and only serves to create optimism when there's practically no cause for it.
This exchange perfectly summed up the Saints 2023 season, and leads to this lasting take on the team in the Dennis Allen era:
The Saints aren't winning games that ultimately matter when they matter the most. Sure, the Saints have won games to the extent that they haven't been abysmal, and they've managed to be on the doorstep of the playoffs both seasons, but when presented with opportunities to kick the door down and announce their relevance under Allen's leadership, they've fallen short.
The fact that a 20-point lead over the primary division rival in a late-season game with the division still mathematically up for grabs felt so pointless, not to mention a bit tenuous, speaks to where this team is these days. The New Orleans Saints need to perform in a quality manner against quality competition when they have everything in front of them, not just when they're clinging to whatever sliver of postseason life is left on the table.