The New Orleans Saints are 2-3 and have yet to face the toughest stretch of their schedule. What are some "easy" wins the Saints could secure to make a playoff push?
"Easy" is relative, of course. The game against the Carolina Panthers should have been another tally in the win column, but NOLA came up short against arguably the worst offense in the league.
Looking at the remainder of Saints games, a handful of teams stand out as more beatable than others: Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals, Week 10 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the final stretch of the season in which the Saints play the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Panthers.
All in all, that would up the Saints' win total to seven, a couple games shy of a winning record.
Those mid-season games against the Cardinals and Steelers appear to be winnable on paper. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray serve as the fulcrum of the Cardinals yet those two have turned into one of the biggest fiascos of the league.
Saints may realistically finish with a 7-10 record in 2022
Though DeAndre Hopkins is set to return in Week 7, Arizona's struggles this season seem to stem from a combination of coaching issues and poor quarterback play, neither of which are easily fixable problems.
As for the Steelers, rookie Kenny Pickett has overtaken Mitch Trubisky as the team's starting quarterback but will likely need more time to develop in Year 1. The Saints defense should be able to capitalize on Pickett's mistakes and contain the Steelers' stunted run game.
The end-of-season matchups against the Falcons, Browns, and Panthers are self-explanatory except for maybe the Browns, who will have Deshaun Watson back in the fold.
We're not too worried about a quarterback who hasn't played since 2020, though, and we'll see how Watson fares in his first game back in Week 12.
Assuming the Saints win those five games and perhaps secure a few unlikely victories (the Raiders look more deflated than ever, the 49ers are losing a key starter to injury every week), New Orleans could quietly worm their way into the postseason. Just keep in mind that nothing is guaranteed.