After weeks of growing frustrations, Saints fans finally witnessed what seemed to be a reinvigorated offense in their Week 8 faceoff against the Indianapolis Colts. New Orleans rallied from a ten-point deficit, overturning a 17-7 scoreline to secure a 38-27 victory. This was a breath of fresh air, mainly when reflecting on the team’s past sluggish starts. The turning point was evident in the first half, with the Saints’ offensive unit showing an unexpected cohesion.
Although it wasn’t a flawless performance, Derek Carr, the Saints’ signal-caller, displayed improved chemistry with his receiving corps — a significant leap from the visible on-field disagreements and miscommunications in matchups against teams like the Texans and Jaguars. As the Saints head into their Week 9 clash against the Chicago Bears, one can’t help but wonder if the spark ignited in Indianapolis will grow into a consistent flame. Here are four things to watch in the Saints Week 9 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
1. Consistent Production for the Offense
Throughout the season, head coach Dennis Allen has remained unwavering in his belief, repeatedly emphasizing that the Saints’ offense was on an upward trajectory. While the unit has indeed managed to amass over 400 yards of offense in several games, it’s clear that sheer yardage isn’t the sole indicator of success. Without those numbers translating to wins, they risk becoming empty statistics.
The team’s recent triumph against the Colts showcased the offense in its prime, rallying from an early 10-point deficit to function with the precision and coordination glimpsed during training camp. It was a testament to the potential of this Saints offense. As they gear up to face the Bears’ struggling defense in the upcoming matchup, the actual test lies in replicating this level of performance, proving that their resurgence isn’t just a one-off but a sustainable rhythm.
2. Chris Olave Becoming a Game-Changer Once Again
Sophomore slumps aren’t uncommon in the world of sports, and second-year wide receiver Chris Olave seems to be navigating these turbulent waters currently. After a blazing start to the 2023 season, the former Ohio State standout has seen a dip in his on-field impact as the Saints grapple with their evolving offensive identity.
The explosive plays and consistent game-changing moments fans had come to expect from Olave have dwindled in recent weeks, giving a mere glimpse of his full capabilities. Yet, there’s no doubt about the potential of this former first-round pick. Olave’s innate ability to make a significant mark within the Saints’ offense is undeniable. The challenge now is reigniting that fire and showcasing the breadth of his talent once more.
3. Consistency Crucial for Saints’ Defense Throughout Four Quarters
The Saints’ defense has displayed a concerning trend this season – sluggish starts that seem to put them on the back foot. Their recent matchup against the Colts was emblematic of this issue. Though the offense stepped up to mitigate the damage from the points conceded early on, the defense’s second-half surge wasn’t enough to entirely stifle the Colts’ threats.
Now, facing the Bears with a rookie quarterback filling in for an injured Justin Fields, the defense can redefine their narrative. While they have previously succumbed to the arm of a rookie QB in Week 6 against the Texans, another defeat could lead to growing concerns. The looming question is: Can the Saints’ defense maintain a consistent front and resist the pitfalls of past performances for all four quarters? This weekend’s game could very well provide the answer.
4. The Anticipated Michael Thomas Masterclass
The journey of Michael Thomas over the last two years has been tumultuous, marred by injuries and roadblocks. But as of 2023, he’s reclaimed his health and, with it, the promise of the explosive talent that fans have missed. Although no longer the central figure in the Saints’ passing game, Thomas’s consistency has shown Carr that he remains a reliable option. Eight games into the season, Thomas echoes the form that once saw him shatter records and clinch the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award.
With the Saints’ offense appearing more cohesive lately, the matchup against the Bears could potentially be Thomas’s magnum opus for the season. The Bears’ secondary, beleaguered by its low league rankings in various categories, could be the ideal ground for Thomas to demonstrate his elite capabilities. As fans gear up for the Week 9 encounter, all eyes will be on #13, waiting for that breakout performance that has seemed imminent.
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