Sunday, November 9, 2008

The day the season died

Posted By on Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 9:43 PM

click to enlarge Ellis looking morose

Photo by Jonathan Bachman

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I had some fun before with everyone proclaiming the Saints' season dead after their loss to Carolina and then consequently ressurrected after their win in San Diego. And, for the most part, I like to avoid knee-jerk reactions to games. But in the wake of their 34–20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, it's safe to say that, barring a miracle, the Saints' 2008 season is effectively over.

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All you have to do is look at the numbers. The Saints have failed to come with two wins in a row all season, they're now in last place in their division by 2 1/2 games and there are just seven games left in the season – three of which against division opponents and two others against teams fighting for a playoff spot.

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Even after a bye week following an explosive outing against the San Diego Chargers, the Saints' offense sputtered. Their would-be-MVP quarterback looked like a rookie, throwing three interceptions with two of those coming in late fourth-quarter drives. Not to mention Drew Brees got into it with Jeremy Shockey and, despite Coach Sean Payton's efforts to pump up his marquee off-season acquisition, it seems like the honeymoon is over.

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And then there's the defense. Mike McKenzie is the latest Saint to go down with an injury (UPDATE: McKenzie is out for the season, fullback Mike Karney is out 2-4 weeks) Not that he was playing particularly well beforehand, though. The Saints defense let rookie quarterback Matt Ryan look like an All-Pro — giving up 248 passing yards, including plays of 16, 32, and 67 yards, and two touchdowns.

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So now the Saints basically have to win out if they even want to sniff the playoffs and while a win at Kansas City next week is still very possible, it will take a turnaround of epic proportions for this team to finish better than 8–8. If it's any consolation, it's looking more and more like the NFC South could be the NFC East of this season, with three teams making the playoffs and the lone team out finishing at .500. Unfortunately, that team is more than likely gonna be the Saints.

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