2-2 Saints still hopeful after dominant win over Lions

Jude Papillion, Associate Sports Editor

The New Orleans Saints are a quarter of the way through the 2020 NFL regular season. The Saints are 2-2 through their first four games after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one, losing to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Green Bay Packers in weeks two and three, and defeating the Detroit Lions in week four.

In the first week of the season, the Saints toppled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23 in a highly anticipated matchup between Drew Brees and Tom Brady, marking the latter’s first start as a Buccaneer. The Buccaneers’ new offense also featured more new stars including Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy. In his debut, Brady threw two interceptions — one setting up a touchdown run by Alvin Kamara and the other a pick six returned 36 yards by Janoris Jenkins. “If you ask me how I felt like I played, I’d probably say I played awful as well,”  Brees said after throwing for only 160 passing yards. However, his two touchdowns and zero turnovers were enough to win the game.

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The New Orleans Saints are 2-2 this season after a recent 35-29 win over the Detroit Lions. (Cecilia Hammond)

In week two, the Saints traveled to Las Vegas to face the Raiders on Monday Night Football in their first game at the brand new Allegiant Stadium, albeit without a single fan in the stands. While the Saints had a hot start, the Raiders dominated the game during the fourth quarter, defeating the Saints 34-24. Brees finished with 312 passing yards, one touchdown, and a critical second quarter interception that set up a field goal for the Raiders late in the first half. Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns en route to victory.

The Saints hosted the Green Bay Packers for Sunday Night Football in week three. While Drew Brees and the Saints played their best game up to this point, the Packers left New Orleans with the 37-30 win. Brees threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, while Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns.

The Saints traveled to Detroit in week four to face the Lions, but the game was jeopardized on Saturday evening when Saints fullback Michael Burton tested positive for COVID-19. A retest of Burton and contact tracing tests among other players all came back negative, allowing the game to go forward.

Despite the scare, the Saints secured their second win of the season against the Lions 35-29. New Orleans, down six starters including star wide receiver Michael Thomas due to injury, had a dismal start, quickly facing a two-touchdown deficit. However, the Saints went on to score five straight touchdowns to win the game while the Lions became the first team in NFL history to have a double-digit lead and lose in six straight games. Brees threw for 246 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, and Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 206 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. When asked about the COVID-19 scare and being down with injured players, Brees said, “I think it just says a lot about this team, about all of the guys that stepped up and filled that voids, filled those roles. And everybody just persevered and found a way to get a big win today.”

The Saints are set to take on the Los Angeles Chargers at home on Monday Night Football in week five followed by a bye week in week six. The Saints will then face the Carolina Panthers at home, following games against the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road before reaching midseason.

According to BetMGM, the Saints (+1200) are tied with the Packers (+1200) for the fourth-highest odds of winning the Super Bowl as of Oct. 5, behind the Kansas City Chiefs (+350), Baltimore Ravens (+500) and Seattle Seahawks(+1000).