The hype is back on. I guess, as long-suffering fans of the Saints, we're just too eager to latch on to any kind of hope. It seems that some fans and analysts already have us pencilled in for that last wild card spot. Let's not forget, though, that some of us had the NFC South championship pencilled in a few weeks ago.
I was definitely pleased with the Saints' performance today. We did what we should have done and took care of business in a must-win situation. Drew Brees is looking great again, and how about Aaron Stecker? As strange as it sounds, perhaps Reggie Bush going down might be the best thing that could have happened for our playoff hopes this year.
I think too often since the loss of Deuce, the Saints have tried to cram Bush into a hole where he doesn't fit, as a head-down, plowing through the defense kind of runner. But Bush really needs a guy like Deuce to be the workhorse and give him a chance to get out in space and make the kind of plays he can make. Bush is not a guy that can carry the load himself. Stecker's shown over the past two games that, with a little relief from Pierre Thomas, he can. It gives us a solid running attack, and the coaches don't feel pressure to get the ball into Stecker's hands if the run's not working the way they do with Bush. It simplifies the gameplan.
As far as playoffs go, I have just as much hope as any Saints fan that we can finish 9-7 and sneak in, but I temper that hope with reality. First, we have to take care of our end of the deal, which includes beating Philadelphia and Chicago. That's not a given, particularly since we'll be going to Chicago on December 30, where it's likely to be snowing and cold. I don't need to remind anyone about that NFC Championship game last year. And even if we take care of our end, the Vikings have to lose, and they've been hot lately. It's definitely possible, but I wouldn't be making my plans for a playoff tailgate party just yet. For Monday night, all I can say is "Go Bears."