2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Still eying playoffs, Saints get ready for Falcons

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-27 03:12

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Drew Brees happily entertains playoff possibilities for the New Orleans Saints, figuring that the question of whether a 5-6 team deserves to be in the NFC wild card race is irrelevant.

He has a point.

Despite an 0-4 start and their latest loss on Sunday to San Francisco, New Orleans remains one game out with five games left. To Brees, that means the Saints are virtually in control of their playoff fate - even if that is not entirely the case.

``Regardless of how this season started, that seems like so long ago,'' Brees said Monday, a day after New Orleans saw its three-game winning streak snapped. ``We've just come so far since then. We really have everything lined right in front of us. Despite everything, we've got it all right in front of us. We really control our own destiny.''

Had the Saints prolonged their winning streak against the NFC West-leading Niners, they would have arrived at work on Monday tied for the final NFC Wild Card spot at 6-5 because Seattle, Minnesota and Tampa Bay - the teams New Orleans is chasing - all lost on Sunday.

So the Saints head to their Thursday night showdown at NFC South Division rival Atlanta (10-1) still alive for a postseason berth, but with minimal room for error and a tough schedule ahead.

New Orleans will need Seattle, Minnesota and Tampa Bay to lose. Of those teams, only the Buccaneers appear on the Saints' remaining schedule.

``The margin for error is very slight right now. We've kind of used up our nine lives,'' Brees said. ``So we've got to really bear down here and just understand what's at stake every time we step on the field.''

After New Orleans visits Atlanta, its next game is at the NFC East-leading New York Giants, which will cap a string of three straight games against NFC division leaders.

For Brees, even the loss to San Francisco was an indication of how far the Saints have come since stumbling from their offseason bounty scandal to an early season losing streak.

The Saints held a 14-7 lead late in the first half before the Niners returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The Saints still rallied for another touchdown and remained very much in the game in the second half.

``It's tough because I know we played well enough to win in so many ways and yet, two plays like that can just completely change the outcome of a game, which obviously those did. I was really encouraged walking away from that game in a lot of ways,'' Brees said. ``I feel like we can beat that team, should beat that team. But listen, they're really, really good. They're going to be in the hunt just like we want to be in the hunt. We might see them later on. For us, it's a short week. We've got to be able to turn it right around.''

Meanwhile, the Saints' defense, although still ranked last in the NFL, continued showing improvement, giving up a relatively few 17 points to the 49ers' offense and allowing fewer than 400 total yards for the first time all season.

``The defensive guys came out and played with the right attitude,'' first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said, adding that there is ``more confidence in our room than before.

``We need to carry that into Atlanta because this is another good offense that we're facing and we don't have a lot of time to prepare,'' Spagnuolo continued. ``We are getting better as a unit. It is coming together. There's no question. Guys are making plays. They're more comfortable. There's more reacting than reading. A lot less tentative play.''

Before losing to the Niners, the Saints had rallied to even their record at 5-5 and re-establish themselves as realistic playoff hopefuls.

``I feel no differently about our football team right now than I did yesterday morning when we woke up and (had) won five of our previous six games,'' assistant head coach Joe Vitt said. ``This team works hard. This team is together. This team does not point fingers. We are moving on.''

Brees noted that when a good team loses, it can't wait to get back on the field, so that is what is good about playing on Thursday night.

However, it leaves less time to recover from injuries - and New Orleans had a few.

Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, a reserve who plays regularly, left the game after a heavy collision over the middle with Niners tight end Delanie Walker. Coaches said Abdul-Quddus is due for some concussion testing this week and his status for Thursday is unclear.

Also out Thursday will be rookie right tackle Bryce Harris, who left the first quarter of his first start on Sunday with a lower right leg injury. Harris had been pressed into a starting role following injuries to regular starter Zach Strief (left groin) and his backup, Charles Brown (right knee).

Harris' injury forced Will Robinson, signed to the roster last week, to step in.

Vitt said Strief could be ready on Thursday. Still, the Saints were bringing in several free-agent linemen for tryouts, Vitt said.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Bobby WagnerOct 22 08:03p

Seattle Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (ankle), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), C Max Unger (foot) and LB Bobby Wagner (toe) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. [ More ]

Zach MillerOct 22 08:03p

Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot) and TE Zach Miller (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, and they have been ruled out for Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.

Frostee RuckerOct 22 06:53p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. S Rashad Johnson (knee) was limited, while DE Frostee Rucker (calf) practiced in full.

Johnathan JosephOct 22 06:53p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), CB Darryl Morris (ankle), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB John Simon (ankle) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 22 06:33p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) did [ More ]

Tre MasonOct 22 06:32p

St. Louis Rams RB Tre Mason could be the top candidate for a majority of carries since he is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Mason rushed for 85 yards [ More ]

Dion SimsOct 22 05:53p

Miami Dolphins T Branden Albert (elbow), CB Cortland Finnegan (neck), WR Brandon Gibson (knee), CB Brent Grimes (groin), C Samson Satele (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck) and S Jimmy [ More ]

Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 22 05:43p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder), DE William Hayes (illness), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S T.J. McDonald (concussion) and OT Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. [ More ]

Scott SolomonOct 22 05:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Jonathan Krause, Seattle Seahawks TE Rashaun Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Solomon Patton and DE Scott Solomon cleared waivers and became free agents Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Billy WinnOct 22 05:33p

Cleveland Browns DE Desmond Bryant (wrist) and LB Barkeveous Mingo both fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. DE Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) and CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) were both [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 22 05:23p

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (hand, hip) and SS Danny McCray (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. LB Jonathan Bostic (back) and LB Lance Briggs (ribs) [ More ]

Sharrif FloydOct 22 05:13p

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (hernia), LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring) and C John Sullivan (concussion) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. DE Corey Wootton (back), DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle), [ More ]

Dashon GoldsonOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), OT Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle) and S Keith Tandy (hamstring) were limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. C Johnthan Banks (neck) practiced in full.

Brandon BrownerOct 22 05:13p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), OG Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique [ More ]

Josh McCownOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Brett KeiselOct 22 05:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), FS Mike Mitchell (non-injury) and SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamOct 22 04:53p

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jonathan GoodwinOct 22 04:53p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle, knee) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder), LB Ramon Humber [ More ]

Thomas DavisOct 22 04:53p

Carolina Panthers CB Bene Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Philly Brown (concussion), LB Thomas Davis (non-injury), S Roman Harper (non-injury), OG Amini Silatolu (calf), OG Trai Turner [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 22 04:43p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) wasn't feeling good enough to return to practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Head coach Marvin Lewis said Green won't play in Week 8 against [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 22 04:43p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Reggie WayneOct 22 04:33p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jake LockerOct 22 04:33p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Kelechi OsemeleOct 22 04:33p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (wrist) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. OT Eugene Monroe (knee) and OG Kelechi Osemele (knee) practiced in full.

Gosder CherilusOct 22 04:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle (knee) and OT Gosder Cherilus (rest) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Darius Butler (ankle) was limited during practice, while DT [ More ]

James StarksOct 22 04:33p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Starks injured the ankle in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.

Brandon ThompsonOct 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens. DE Robert Geathers (toe), CB Leon Hall (back) and OG Mike Pollak [ More ]

Andre BranchOct 22 04:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Alan Ball (bicep) and DE Andre Branch (groin) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. C Luke Bowanko (ankle), CB Aaron Colvin (knee) and S Craig Loston (hamstring) were limited.

Trent RichardsonOct 22 04:23p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Mario WilliamsOct 22 04:13p

Buffalo Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) and LB Ty Powell (ankle) both did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. WR Marcus Easley (knee) and S Aaron Williams (neck) [ More ]

Martellus BennettOct 22 04:13p

Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett (hamstring) said he expects to practice Thursday, Oct. 23, and play in Week 8. Bennett missed practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Nick MangoldOct 22 04:13p

New York Jets LB Trevor Reilly (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), OG Willie Colon (knee), LB David Harris (shoulder) [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group