What can you say about Sunday night? The "Debacle in Dallas." the "Implosion in Irving," or the "Fall of Romo" as some have termed it. Whatever it was, one thing was for certain:
The Saints could go marchin' in, all the way to the Super Bowl.
Last night was nothing short of a good old fashion beat-down. The Saints' 42-17 Cowboy-killing gave them an inside track to a bye and - Rex Grossman pending - a shot at home field throughout the playoffs.
As for the Cowboys, no, they are not done. They still lead the Giants and Eagles by one game in the NFC East, with a semi-forgiving schedule left (@Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit). They should, should, win two out of three, getting them in the playoffs. If one of those wins is against Philly, that should be enough to lock up the division crown.
The Saints put up two 21-point quarters to put the country - and the AFC - on alert. New Orleans is here, and they're ready to take on anyone. This win could very well be the springboard for the Saints to finish the season on a six-game winning streak and a 12-4 record that will guarantee at least a bye, if not home field (it's highly unlikely, but we'll see about that tonight after the Bears game).
New Orleans has come out of nowhere this season. They have the inside track to a bye, and quarterback Drew Brees has a shot at breaking Dan Marino's season passing record (5,084 yards). Not since Kurt Warner in 2001 has anyone come close.
With their remaining schedule, Mardi Gras could come early for the Big Easy.
Let's break down the Saints remaining schedule:
Dec. 17, Washington Redskins (4-9)
There's no excuse not to win this game. Gibbs and Co. are reeling after a narrow loss to Philly, and New Orleans has been sensational in the Super Dome this season.
If they want, the Saints can go ahead and look at film for the New York game. Let the back ups play this one.
Dec. 24, @ New York Giants (7-6)
After a four-game, potentially-season-crushing losing streak, the Giants are once again the best team in East Rutherford, N.J. Congratulations. Their win at Carolina helped give this free-falling franchise some semblance of a parachute. The Giants will need great production from their running backs (Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs) to take the pressure off Eli Manning.
On paper, the Saints are a better all-around team, but let's wait to see just how high the G-men bounce back.
Dec. 31, Carolina Panthers (6-7)
In the Saints' closest (and first) loss of the season, Carolina pounded the ball, outgaining New Orleans on the ground, 167-63. Jake Delhomme played an efficient game (19/29, 169 yards, 2 TDs). If Delhomme is back for this game (and I don't mean back from the injury, I mean back from whatever planet he's been on for the last three weeks),
the Panthers will be a tough team to beat.
The Saints kept it close the first time, and the Panthers keep finding new ways to lose games in the fourth quarter. And what better way to celebrate a win against division-rival Carolina than with a bye week.
The Saints most likely won't earn home-field advantage throughout. Chicago is undefeated in conference play (8-0) with a cupcake schedule the rest of the way. Even with their problems at quarterback, the defensive Monsters of the Midway (and some special special teams production) should allow the Bears to lock up the top seed.
Chicago would have to loss three of its final four games (@St. Louis, Tampa Bay, @Detroit, Green Bay) to allow New Orleans the top seed. Who cares who Rex Grossman is playing with that schedule! They have two home losses in the last two years. I know it gets pretty cold in Chicago in January, but that hasn't bothered the last two playoff teams that visisted.
So enjoy last night's win, New Orleans. You marched in to Dallas and marched over the Cowboys. Keep it up and you might just march yourselves into Miami for Super Bowl XLI.