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Week 2: End of New Orleans’ NFC South Dominance?

September 20, 2015 • Ben Heck • Features, Front Page, Game Recap, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFC South, Recap, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston led his Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an upset 26-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints this afternoon, capturing his first career NFL victory.

The win puts Tampa Bay at 1-1 and New Orleans at 0-2.

It’s only two games out of 16, obviously, but could this hint towards the end of the NFC South dominance for the New Orleans Saints? Or is this just a minor setback for head coach Sean Payton down South, coming off a disappointing 7-9 season?

From 2009-13:

Five seasons, four playoff appearances, one Super Bowl victory
55-25 regular season record, 5-3 playoff record
9 total home losses
21-9 against division opponents (7-3 vs. TB)

From 2014-15:

One-plus season, one losing record
7-11 regular season record
6 home losses (all in a row)
3-4 against division opponents (2-1 vs. TB)

That’s a hell of a five-year run for the Saints.

But All-Pro, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees (36) isn’t getting any younger, and neither is wideout Marques Colston (32). After losing top target Jimmy Graham over the off-season, they’ll need their youngsters like WRs Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman and TE Josh Hill to step things up in the passing game. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a healthy C.J. Spiller to couple with Mark Ingram out of the backfield.

This afternoon’s loss in front of the home crowd extends their home losing streak to six games, dating back to November 9, 2014 against the Niners.

The Saints finished 7-9 (2nd in South) last season, including a 3-3 record against fellow NFC South counterparts. And now they’ve kicked off their 2015 divisional match-ups with a seven-point loss to a rookie quarterback.

With more and more high-powered passing offenses hitting the NFC (Packers, Lions, Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Falcons, Cardinals, Seahawks), the window for another Super Bowl championship for Brees is rapidly closing. The one thing that could keep New Orleans contenders? Somewhat weak divisional opponents.

But the odds of a team starting 0-2 and winning a Super Bowl have never been very favorable.

Sure, I could just be pushing the Saints’ panic button for them. Or….I could be correct in pointing out that the Saints’ will likely need to enter re-build mode in the off-season and prepare for life after Brees? Only time will tell.

Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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