What it means: The Saints are 8-3 and still alone at the top of the NFC South. They also have the city of New Orleans rocking as the season comes down to crunch time. When teams have to come into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for prime-time games late in the season, the Saints have a huge home-field edge. They’ve got the Lions coming in for a prime-time game Sunday, and the Falcons come to New Orleans the night after Christmas. If the Saints win the NFC South and get the No. 3 seed, they’re pretty much guaranteed a trip to the NFC Championship Game, which could be a return trip to Lambeau Field, where the Saints started the season with a close loss to the Packers. But, hey, I'm thinking anything is possible for the Saints right now. This season is starting to remind me a lot more of 2009 than 2010.
The streak is over: The Saints had lost the coin toss in each of their first 10 games. That ended Monday night as they won the toss and elected to receive.
What I liked: Everything on offense. The Saints have so many weapons, and coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees use them all so well, it’s almost unfair for a defense to have to put only 11 players on the field. It might have been a little hard to notice because of Brees' ridiculous passing numbers, but the Saints also ran the ball pretty well.
The confidence factor: I wasn't crazy about it at the time when Payton went with a fake field goal on the first drive. It didn't work. But he basically was saying, "I don't care if we score here or not. This offense is going to put up so many points that it won't matter if we get seven, three or zero points here." He was right.
What I didn’t like: New Orleans’ defense gave up way too many yards. Then again, it didn’t really matter because there was no way a depleted New York defense was going to stop Brees and the New Orleans offense. But New Orleans still needs some improvement on defense, or that might come back to bite the Saints in the postseason.
Unsung hero: Linebacker Will Herring was hurt much of the early part of the season, and we haven’t seen much of him since he’s been healthy. But Herring showed up big, intercepting Eli Manning in the first quarter.
What’s next: The Saints host the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.