New Orleans Saints March On Rough Road In Pursuit Of Playoffs

The New Orleans Saints have fought some battles thus far in their 2013 NFL campaign and the road ahead isn’t getting much easier. Unlike some teams with a cupcake schedule down the stretch, New Orleans will continue to be challenged until the final week of the regular season. While the Saints certainly aren’t looking past the Dallas Cowboys, there’s no reason not to check out what the second half of the season has in store for New Orleans.

The Saints host the visiting Cowboys in prime time Sunday Night Football action this week. When Tony Romo’s 5-4 team comes to town, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees—who recently set an NFL record with eight career 5-touch down games—will have to be primed and ready to decimate Dallas’s 31st-ranked secondary, one that allows an average 305 yards per game in 2013. Brees, who throws an average 334 yards per game, will likely be up to the task, provided favorite targets Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles are healthy. Sproles is probable after being cleared from the concussion he suffered in the Saints Week 9 loss tot he Jets. Graham is questionable after missing Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury.

After Dallas, the now-6-2 San Francisco 49ers comes to New Orleans and QB Colin Kaepernick is bringing the league’s best rushing attack with him. That will be tricky for the Saints defense, which allows an average of 121 yards per game on the ground. If the New Orleans defensive line can contain Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore, it will be up to Brees to beat SF’s 8th-ranked passing defense.

The Saints take to the road with a divisional game against the struggling Atlanta Falcons in Week 12. While Atlanta hasn’t been able to bring it together on the field, or keep it together off the field, they boast the 5th-best air attack in the game. Fortunately, pass defense is what New Orleans does best, and with Atlanta’s non-existent ground game, this one should be chalked up as a W.

Another road game, this one to Seattle to face the currently 8-1 Seahawks, is the Saints’ reward after facing the Falcons. The Seahawks are another team with a dangerous running game and stingy pass defense. But they barely managed an overtime victory against Tampa Bay this last weekend, and that’s sad. Speaking of the Buccaneers, they cap off the 2013 Saints season Week 17. The December 29 game may be a bit late and it’s unwrapped, but it’s the thought that counts. Merry Christmas, New Orleans fans.

Weeks 14 and 16 bring games against New Orleans’ only threat in the NFC South: the Carolina Panthers, who are presently enjoying a four-game win streak. Granted, the Saints have as many wins as those four teams combined, but New Orleans can’t afford to discount the effect momentum.

The St. Louis Rams host the Saints in Week 15, one of the aforementioned Panthers opponents. While ranking in the bottom third of the league in every other category, they do have a Top 10 pass defense.

What do you think the New Orleans Saints can accomplish in the second half of the 2013 season?