After one week, the Saints are the best team in the NFL and it isn’t close
Someone pinch me please – the Saints are who we thought they were.
After one week, at least, it appears the high-flying Jameis Winston-led passing attack and the dominant defense fronted by a bunch of undrafted tackles of the preseason was not a fluke. The Saints’ 38-3 win against the Green Bay Packers was a gory disembowelment that left 2020 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers on the bench for much of the fourth quarter.
It was by far the most shocking development of the week, barely topping the horrific and unnatural resurrection of Drew Brees’ hairline.
“They came ready to play; absolutely embarrassed us today,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. Yeah man, no shit. Rodgers responded to his performance in almost comical fashion, looking dazed and disinterested: “I played bad,” he mumbled.
Meanwhile, Winston had this to say:
That’ll play as long as Winston keeps throwing bombs and making good decisions.
New Orleans’ week one rout was like watching a skilled Madden player cut through the CPU on the lowest possible difficulty level. It didn’t seem real.
But in reality, Winston played like any reasonable person should have expected a former first overall pick to play under an offensive mastermind like Sean Payton, as he lit up the Green Bay secondary for 5 TDs. He made it look easy, and it probably was, as the team also sliced up the Packers defense for 171 yards on the ground and an impressive 4.4 yards per carry. They dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 11 minutes longer than the Packers.
To some of us, it’s been kind of obvious since the very beginning of the offseason that if Winston lived up to his potential, results like this were possible. Although even I have to admit, while I personally expected the Saints to at least contend in a game against a team that has gone 26-6 over the past two seasons, I never expected them to obliterate the Packers and run them out of the building like a group of prepubescent junior varsity players.
After having to relocate team operations to Texas and the game itself to Jacksonville in the wake of Hurricane Ida, it was clear the Saints were playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Perhaps the closest thing to it in (relatively) recent Saints history was their 38-17 blowout of the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in 2009. That was a statement game announcing to a national audience that the Saints were a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
Eleven years later, they’ve done it again, except this time they did it in the first week of the season, a time usually reserved for an off-kilter defense and inconsistent offense.
But alas, not this year. Sure, there will likely be some statistical regression at some point this season. Maybe it’ll even come next week against the Carolina Panthers (also 1-0), who looked not completely terrible against the New York Jets Sunday.
But for now, the post-Brees, Payton-Winston era has gotten off to an extremely explosive and efficient start. And at some point, they’ll get new toys in the fold, like suspended defenders David Onyemata and Bradley Robey, as well as injured star wideout Michael Thomas.
Did I mention that Marshon Lattimore inked a five-year, $97.6 million extension after the game?
It was a good day, and there are more big wins to come.