Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
Analysis: After last week’s remarkable comeback in Miami and a huge home win against the highly regarded Giants, it’s looking like almost anything is possible for the Saints. Now that they have a defense, they can play with any team in the NFL and they’re growing more confident by the day. It’s no longer Drew Brees and best wishes on offense. With Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey now healthy and the newly found running game clicking, the Saints are going to score enough points to stay with anybody. They’ve been relatively lucky with injuries. Losing left tackle Jammal Brown at the start of the season seemed like it would be a huge blow. But Jermon Bushrod has stepped in and the offense hasn’t missed a beat. Look at the remainder of the schedule, which includes five games in the electric Superdome, and there are only three games that look like they could present any trouble. One comes Monday night, when the Falcons come to town. There’s another on Dec. 13 in Atlanta.
Toughest challenge: The biggest test of all could come Nov. 30. That’s a Monday night game with New England. It’s at home and that will help because the dome should be louder than it’s ever been. The Patriots haven’t been dominant so far this season, but things could start clicking at any time for a team that has quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. If the Saints are still undefeated going into this one, the Patriots will be playing for pride. They’re the last team to go undefeated through a regular season (2007) and they’d like to keep that honor.
Playoff carryover: The Saints don’t have a long history of winning playoff games. But this team is different from anything New Orleans ever has had. It’s outstanding on offense and very good on defense and special teams. There also seems to be a special chemistry with this team, something that was badly lacking the last two years and Sean Payton has grown tremendously as a coach. If this team can go undefeated through the regular season, home playoff games are a certainty and the modern Saints don’t lose in the Superdome very often. Winning the Super Bowl will be more of a challenge than anything the Saints will face in the NFC, but you have to like the chances of any team that has Brees.