Saints Enter Bye Week Looking to Repeat History
The New Orleans Saints head into a bye week with a 3-2 record and tied for the NFC South lead with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. New Orleans will next be in action on Sunday, October 25, when they host the Carolina Panthers. Their 3-2 record might be disappointing to several that had the Saints labeled as Super Bowl favorites coming into the year. They have won their last two games, however, and would fortify a playoff push with a convincing performance coming out of the bye.
The Saints have an 8-6 record in games following a bye week since coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees joined the franchise in 2006. New Orleans had won three straight contests coming out of a bye before a lackluster 26-9 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons last season. New Orleans has outscored their opponents 29.5-26.6 in those games, but has just a 2-3 record against NFC South rivals following a bye. That includes a 1-1 record against the Panthers; a 16-13 loss at home to them in 2007, and a 41-38 home victory in 2016.
The Saints have been even better at home after a week off. They have a 6-3 record when hosting an opponent after a bye week, outscoring their foe 33.7-26.7. New Orleans had won six straight home contests following their bye before that upset loss to the Falcons last season. Drew Brees has been especially sharp in home games after a week off, averaging 335 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The Saints will also welcome back record-setting All-Pro WR Michael Thomas to the lineup when they return to action, as well as Pro Bowl CB Janoris Jenkins. Thomas has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, while Jenkins has sat out the last two games with an injured shoulder. While the week off gives the team a chance to get healthy on both sides of the ball, it also gives both players and coaches a chance to clean up their play on the field. Sean Payton has criticized his own offensive play-calling, especially on third downs, and the team's secondary has struggled with penalties and blown assignments through all five games.
History tells us that the Saints should come out of their bye week strong. They cannot afford to let up either, like we saw from the team last year against the Falcons in this exact situation. Especially against a division rival currently tied with them in the standings.