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Saints Send Clear Message After Showing Out in Prime Time

You now have to include the Saints in your discussion when talking about the best teams in the NFL right now.

The New Orleans Saints seemed to be heating up at the right time, even on the verge of sizzling as pointed out earlier in the week. Now, it's pretty safe to say they're on fire. Through the midpoint of the year, they're 6-2, and sent a clear message to rest of the league in a prime time setting after crushing the Bucs 38-3. The Saints became the first team to sweep Tom Brady in his career, doing so in a very impressive fashion. In fact, it was the worst loss of Brady's career, with the previous one being back in 2003 when the Patriots lost to the Bills 31-0.

It was a game where virtually no one picked the Saints, and it was supposed to be the game where Tampa Bay established their dominance and show their superiority, but New Orleans had other plans for them. Even turning the ball over twice, the defense responded accordingly. They allowed just 194 total yards of offense to the Bucs, allowing just one 3rd down conversion on nine total tries. Tampa Bay only ran the ball five total times, and one of those was a Blaine Gabbert kneel down at the end of the game. They picked off Brady three times on the night, forcing all sorts of bad decisions. It was simply the most complete game the Saints have had in recent memory.

Coming in, we were hoping that we kept seeing improvement the defense, not needing perfection, but at least continuing to trend in the right direction. The Saints knew that victory against the Bucs centered around their ability to affect and disrupt him, and they did just that. However, no one predicted the blowout that transpired. How could you have? All week it was about the weapons the Bucs had, and it only got better with the addition of Antonio Brown, but the reality is that New Orleans had an answer for just about every one of them and every situation on Sunday.

When you factor in the defense doing its thing and finding its groove with the offense getting back to full strength, there's real potential for New Orleans, as they just showed everyone on national television the team that many believed they would have been coming out of the gate. Lost in the talk is how good Drew Brees has looked too, as the whole air yards argument seems fickle. He's playing some of his best football right now, being careful and precise with his decision-making. In the last three games, Brees has 789 yards passing with 8 touchdowns and no picks, throwing for just under 79 percent accuracy (86-of-109).

This all sets up for a very interesting back half of the season for the Saints, as the opponents on deck aren't really what we though they'd be at this point of the year. While none of their remaining games are given, it certainly looks favorable. Of course, in the same breath you can say some of those have the makings of a trap game, but right now it's hard to bet against Sean Payton's squad with how they've overcome and delivered with a pretty full deck.

If New Orleans can keep this momentum going, then the sky's the limit. Naturally, you take it one game at a time, but if their win over the Bucs is any indication of what their true potential is, then the Saints could very well be the team to beat in the NFC right now.