1. The Saints Are Back

After stating a disappointing 1-4, the Saints have now won three consecutive games against three teams with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. In their first five games, their offense looked lost. Drew Brees looked old, their running game was non-existent, and they lacked a go to receiver. Well, now three weeks later, Brees looks like he’s found the fountain of youth, Mark Ingram has emerged as an elite running back, and Brandin Cooks finally decided to show up.

In his last three games, Brees has thrown for 1,078 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions: much better than his numbers in his first four games. But, not only has Brees produced better numbers, overall, he just looks healthier. Prior to his last three games, Brees routinely underthrew his receivers, held onto the ball much too long, and made poor decisions which resulted in turnovers.

At 4-4, the Saints find themselves with a legitimate chance at obtaining one of the two NFC wild card positions. Their next three opponents are the Titans, Redskins, and Texans: games that the Saints should easily win.

 

  1. The Steelers Can’t Catch A Break

Yesterday’s game against the Bengals was the first time all season that the Steelers had their full ensemble of offensive talent. Well, it didn’t last long, as Le’Veon Bell left the game on a cart after injuring his right knee. According to ESPN, Bell will miss the remainder of the season with a torn MCL. With a 4-4 record, including a loss to first place Cincinnati, the AFC North is all, but lost.

 

 

  1. Jim Caldwell Needs To Go

The season from hell for the Lions continued yesterday with a 45-10 loss to the Chiefs in London. After firing their offensive coordinator, the Lions’ offense was supposed to be more dynamic and versatile, but that was far from the truth.

Coming into the game the Lions ran the ball about 22 percent of the time: yesterday they ran the ball on 21 percent of their plays. To win in the NFL, a team cannot rely as much as the Lions do on one aspect of their offense.

The team’s struggles fall on the shoulders of their head coach, Jim Caldwell. The team is 1-7, they’ve looked abysmal on offense and defense, they are one of the worst teams at making halftime adjustments, and they routinely make boneheaded penalties. All of those things come down to one thing, and that one thing is coaching. Outside of one season with Peyton Manning at quarterback, Caldwell hasn’t proven anything as a head coach in this league. He has no idea what he is doing with this Lions’ team. He needs to go!

 

  1. Stefon Diggs Is Here To Stay

In the four games in which Diggs has been active, the Vikings have averaged more points, yards, and plays per game than the games in which he was inactive. Diggs has caught at least six passes for 80 yards in each of his four games. He’s quickly emerged as Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target; leading the team in targets over the last four games.

Diggs has added an entirely new dynamic to this team. As a legitimate threat at wide receiver, opposing teams cannot just stack the box to try and stop Adrian Peterson. The threat of Diggs on the outside is something other teams have to plan for.

The Vikings are 5-2 and have an extremely favorable remaining schedule. Like the Saints, I expect the Vikings to be right there, competing at for one of the two NFC wild card spots.

 

  1. Injuries Are Finally Catching Up to the Packers

Even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, an NFL team can only withstand so many injuries. They’ve been without Jordy Nelson all season, Randall Cobb has been playing with a hurt shoulder all year long, Eddie Lacy hasn’t been in shape, Davante Adams hasn’t been 100 percent since week one, and their starting cornerbacks started the year at number three and four on the depth chart.

Over the last three weeks, it was apparent that the Packers offense was not the same. Rodgers masked a lot of the deficiencies that the offense has, but yesterday, they were matched up against the best defense in the league and because of that, even Aaron Rodgers couldn’t hide just how banged up this team is.

 

Sean Mason

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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